Ransomware threat escalating, warns Europol

Europol warns that the threat of ransomware continues to escalate as it marks the anniversary of a cross-industry anti-ransomware initiative

The No More Ransom initiative boasts 109 partners and 54 decryption tools covering 104 kinds of ransomware a year after it was set up to counter the still-growing threat of ransomware to businesses, governments and individuals.

Ransomware typically encrypts critical data and then demands payment of a ransom, usually in bitcoin, to restore the data to its unencrypted form.

The No More Ransom online portal, which is aimed at helping victims of ransomware to recover their data and at raising awarness about the dangers of ransomware, started as a joint initiative by the Dutch National Police, Europol, McAfee and Kaspersky Lab, and is now available in 26 languages.

The most recent additions include Barclays, Bournemouth University, the cyber security agency of Singapore, and law enforcement agencies from Czech Republic, Greece, Hong Kong and Iran.

So far, the tools provided by initiative partners have managed to decrypt more than 28,000 devices, depriving cyber criminals of an estimated €8m in ransom money.

The portal has counted over 1.3 million unique visitors and, on 14 May 2017 alone, during the WannaCry crisis, 150,000 people visited the website.

Despite these successes, the ransomware threat continues to evolve, becoming stealthier and more destructive, increasingly targeting businesses more than individuals because the potential returns are much higher.

The indiscriminate WannaCry attack in mid-May claimed more than 300,000 business victims across 150 countries in its first few days, crippling critical infrastructure and businesses.

According to Kaspersky Lab’s ransomware report published in June 2017, the number of ransomware victims between April 2016 and March 2017 rose by 11.4% compared with the previous 12 months to more than 2.5 million users around the world.

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