These free ransomware decryption tools have rescued data from 2,500 locked devices

Decryption tools have cost cyber-crooks more than a million euros in two months by unlocking encrypted devices for free.
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

Cybercriminals have lost £1.35 million in potential ransoms.

Image: iStock

A set of free ransomware decryption tools has helped 2,500 people rescue their data, depriving cyber-crooks of more than €1.35 million in ransom.

The tools -- part of the No More Ransom project -- were launched three months ago by the Dutch National Police, Europol, Intel Security, and Kaspersky Lab.

During the first two months, more than 2,500 people have managed to decrypt their devices without having to pay criminals, using the main decryption tools on the site (CoinVault, WildFire, and Shade), Europol said. On average 400,000 people visit the website every day.

"This has deprived cybercriminals of an estimated €1.35 million in ransoms," said Europol.

Five decryption tools are currently listed on the website. The WildfireDecryptor has been added and two decryption tools updated: RannohDecryptor (updated with a decryptor for the ransomware MarsJoke, a.k.a. Polyglot) and RakhniDecryptor (updated with Chimera).

Steven Wilson, head of the European Cybercrime Centre, said: "Despite the increasing challenges, the initiative has demonstrated that a coordinated approach by EU law enforcement that includes all relevant partners can result in significant successes in fighting this type of crime, focusing on the important areas of prevention and awareness."

Ransomware is considered a top threat by EU law enforcement: almost two-thirds of EU member states are conducting investigations into this form of malware attack. And while home users are most commonly affected, increasingly ransomware is also targeting corporate and government networks in the hopes of scoring a bigger payday.

Europol said the 13 more countries had also signed up to the initiative, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

"Their collaboration will result in more free decryption tools becoming available, helping even more victims to decrypt their devices and unlock their information, and damaging the cybercriminals where it hurts the most: their wallets," the agency said.

Europol recently warned that ransomware is evolving to spread to other smart devices like smart TVs.

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