Wild West of Cybercrime: New Sheriff in Town

By on Oct 17, 2016

Your data is held hostage by criminals.  Do you a) pay them, or b) lose your data forever?

Until recently these were the only options for the many victims of ransomware. That was until July 2016 when law enforcement and private sector got together to launch the NoMoreRansom portal. Not only does it provide advice on how to best prevent such infections, it also provides a set of tools that allow victims to decrypt their data. This provided a third option to victims: c) don’t pay the bad guys and get your data back.

Progress has been impressive, because since July the number of tools have doubled to more than eight ransomware families. These tools have successfully decrypted over 2,500 infections in such a short time. Now to put this into context, this means that there were more than 2,000 instances in which people did not have to pay criminals to get their data back. Subsequently the portal was responsible for preventing in excess of €1 million going into the pockets of criminals.

All of which brings us to today. We have launched the portal with the European Cybercrime Centre, Dutch Police, Kaspersky Lab, and McAfee. Now we are delighted to announce the inclusion of 13 new partners from law enforcement: in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

We often hear talk of public-private partnerships and although this rhetoric is often lauded, this initiative demonstrates a true practical example of this approach, and what can be achieved when we work together—not only in creating tools to return data held hostage, but also in raising awareness of ransomware by providing proactive measures to prevent infections.

Ransomware is a growth industry. One can argue it is the poster child of modern cybercrime, with huge revenues for criminals. It impacts consumers, and now specifically targeting sectors such as education, health care, and government. It has a detrimental effect on modern businesses across the globe. Without our taking a stand ransomware will continue to fund criminal activities and motivate cybercriminals to invest more in further nefarious initiatives. We must all take a stand, whether this is industry providing technical support to law enforcement in their efforts to disrupt criminal infrastructure, or an infected victim simply not paying and using the tools provided by NoMoreRansom.

We all have a role in this fight. NoMoreRansom may appear to be only a website fighting ransomware, but in truth it represents so much more.

About the Author

Raj Samani

Raj Samani is Chief Scientist and McAfee Fellow for cybersecurity firm McAfee. He has assisted multiple law enforcement agencies in cybercrime cases, and is a special advisor to the European Cybercrime Centre in The Hague. Samani has been recognized for his contribution to the computer security industry through numerous awards, including the Infosecurity Europe hall ...

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