No More Ransom saves ransomware victims £6.5 million

The scheme unlocks 28,000 devices in its first year

Ransomware victims have saved 6.5 million and decrypted more than 28,000 devices during the first year of the No More Ransom initiative, its creators have said.

The scheme, which was set up a year ago by Kaspersky Lab and McAfee in partnership with Europol and the Dutch National Police, offers users tools which allow them to unlock and decrypt computers that have been hit by ransomware. The tools are provided by nine partner organisations and protect against more than 100 different varieties of ransomware.

It is a good example of public and private sectors working together to tackle cyber security. Among No More Ransom's 109 partner organisations are security companies like Fortinet, Bitsight and Claranet, as well as law enforcement organisations from various countries, academic institutions such as Bournemouth University and major businesses such as Barclays.

Writing in a blog post about the figures, chief scientist and McAfee fellow Raj Samani, and lead scientist for McAfee's Office of the CTO, Christiaan Beeke, said: "Let us put that into context, for zero cost, victims of ransomware who do not have to be customers of any security provider can get their data back for nothing."

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"They don't have to fill in a survey, enter their email address, provide their credit card details, in fact they don't even have to worry about obfuscating their IP address," they added. "For the first time, there is another option. No longer are victims faced with the option of a) lose my data or b) pay criminals."

However, ransomware gangs and cyber criminals are still making vast profits, despite these advances, new research shows.

Google, Chainalysis, NYU Tandon School of Engineering and UC San Diego this week presented a paper revealing that over the past two years, ransomware victims paid out over $25 million.

Two recent attacks include WannaCry, which delayed NHS operations amid other targets, and NotPetya, which is still impacting businesses a month after it hit.

"Preventive measures alone can't keep up with the fast-evolving nature of ransomware attacks. Instead, it's vital businesses look at layered security which includes dedicated protection from ransomware attacks to ensure they remain cyber resilient," said Dan Sloshberg, cyber resiliency expert at email management firm Mimecast.

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