Free Ransomware Killers Save £88M in Ransoms

Free downloadable ransomware tools launched by Europol in association with several cybersecurity firms as part of the ‘No More Ransom’ initiative are estimated to have saved businesses £87.6 million.

Who / What Is Europol?

Europol is the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation.

No More Ransom

‘No More Ransom’ is the name given to the initiative launched July 29th 2016 by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre.  This is the National High-Tech Crime Unit of the Netherlands’ police and McAfee that works to help victims of ransomware to retrieve their encrypted data without having to pay ransoms to criminals.  The idea is that, by restoring access to their infected systems free of charge, victims now have a third choice they did not have before.

Portal

The ‘No More Ransom’ portal ( https://www.nomoreransom.org/ ), which was originally released in English, is now available in 35 other languages, and thanks to the cooperation between more than 150 partners, provides a one-stop-shop of tools that can help to decrypt ransomware infections – see https://www.nomoreransom.org/en/decryption-tools.html.

Impressive Stats

Europol has reported that its ‘No More Ransom’ portal has visitors from 188 countries and since its introduction in 2016 has enabled 200 000 victims of ransomware recover their files free of charge.  In money terms, Europol reports that this equates to $108 million / £87.6 million that cybercriminals have not been paid in ransoms.

For example, No More Ransom's tools led to 40,000 decryptions of the ‘GandCrab’ ransomware, thereby stopping those victims from having to pay over £41 million.

More Tools This Year

This year has seen the introduction of 14 new tools, thereby enabling the portal to provide the means for users to decrypt 109 different types of potentially crippling ransomware infections.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Until the introduction of Europol’s ‘No More Ransom’ portal three years ago, victims of ransomware were faced with a very stark choice of not paying the ransom (potentially losing all their data and/or suffer a permanent shutdown of certain computer systems) or pay the ransom and not only have to find a very large sum of money but also run the risk of the attackers still doing nothing to help even though they’d been paid.  In both cases, the balance of power was very much in favour of the criminal rather than the victim, who may have accidentally downloaded the virus with a mistaken single click in the first place.

The growing number of tools on the No Ransom portal offers businesses that vital third option of being able to restore their valuable data free of charge, thereby providing a practical, easily available way to defeat ransomware attackers.  This could lead to criminals moving away from ransomware as it becomes more difficult to make money from this attack method.

Business owners should remember, however, that even though the No Ransom portal offers real hope, it should not provide an excuse not to take as many preventative security measures as possible in the first place such as educating and training staff and keeping anti-virus software and patches up to date.