Europol joins cybersecurity companies in ransomware crackdown

The initiative will offer advice to victims and help put them in contact with police

Europol has teamed up with cybersecurity companies to launch an anti-ransomware initiative that will connect police with victims to help them deal with attacks.

No More Ransom, the public-facing website at the centre of the scheme, will also offer victims advice on how to deal with attacks and support to recover the data after they have been attacked.

The taskforce, which is being co-ordinated by Europol, includes Dutch national police, Intel, Kaspersky Lab and other companies working in the cybersecurity space, who will work together to help eradicate the damage ransomware can do.

"For a few years now ransomware has become a dominant concern for EU law enforcement," said Wil van Gemert, Europol's deputy director of operations.

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"We expect to help many people to recover control over their files, while raising awareness and educating the population on how to maintain their devices clean from malware."

In addition to offering advice, No More Ransom will also enable victims of ransomware attacks to upload files that have been scrambled as a result of an attack and the cybersecurity companies will help identify which strain of ransomware has been used to encypt them. Where possible, they will be unlocked, although it may not always be possible to do this.

"Right now the only option victims have is to pay the ransom or not," said Raj Samani, European head of Intel Security. "This gives people another option."

"It's becoming a hugely profitable economy for the criminals," Samani continued. "They know there's real money to be made here. What's particularly telling is that historically ransomware victims have been consumers and small businesses," he said. "But we are now seeing bigger institutions, hospitals and universities, getting hit."

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