The European Police Agency Europol on Monday announced a collaboration with tech giant Intel, security expert Kaspersky Lab and the Netherlands police to tackle the exponential growth of ransomware use by criminals.
Together, the companies and agencies launched an online portal called No More Ransom to help inform the public about the dangers of ransomware and help victims recover their data without having to fork over money to criminals.
Ransomware steals and holds user data hostage, forcing individuals and companies to pay criminals in order to regain control of that data. Kaspersky research shows that the number of ransomware attacks increased more than fivefold between 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, from 131,111 to 718,536.
By coughing up on demand, victims of ransomware boost the underground economy, which in turn boosts the number of criminals and number of attacks, said Jornt van der Wiel, security researcher at Kaspersky. "We can only change the situation if we coordinate our efforts to fight against ransomware," he said.
"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," added Wil van Gemert, Europol's deputy director of operations.