No More Ransom – the initiative started in 2016 by law enforcement and IT security companies to help victims of ransomware restore their files – turns five today.
The anniversary is marked by more than 900 million US dollars of illegal profit prevented, and more than 6 million people downloading free decryption tools.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to valuable user data (usually with the help of encryption) and allows perpetrators to demand a ransom from their targets in order to get back access to blocked information. In recent years, this type of malicious software has become extremely widespread, causing huge damage to private users and organisations worldwide.
In order to help people and organisations fight against ransomware, the National High Tech Crime Unit of the Dutch National Police, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, Kaspersky, and McAfee agreed to jointly create a website back in 2016.
Its goal was to help targets of ransomware attacks retrieve their encrypted data without having to pay the criminals. For this, participants of the initiative would publish decryption tools on the website.
These tools, once downloaded and launched, would help victims of specific ransomware families get their data back without paying any ransom.
In addition to decryption tools, the website contains prevention advice and instructions on how to report a cybercrime in a particular country.
Since its inception, the initiative has grown from having four to over 170 partners, while 121 decryption tools are now available to users.
These tools help in the battle against the 150 ransomware families and, over the last five years, around six million people downloaded these decryption tools.
According to No More Ransom’s experts, altogether, participants of the initiative were able to prevent criminals from illegally making over 900 million US dollars in profit.
Kaspersky was and remains one of the founding partners who contributed to the initiative’s five decryption tools, which helped retrieve data encrypted by 32 ransomware families. Since 2016, these tools were downloaded more than 150,000 times.
“I’m extremely happy that since the start of the project we have been able to help so many people get their files back without paying. We keep on fighting ransomware with our industry partners and law enforcement agencies from all over the world to help even more users and prevent further damage,” said Jornt van der Weil, security researcher at Kaspersky Global Research and Analysis Team.