1.5 million ransomware victims didn’t have to pay to get their files back

Europol has announced that it has helped more than 1.5 million people get rid of ransomware over the past 6 years. The number of victims increases from year to year, as well as the number of such software.

Computer attacks have now become commonplace in life: hospitals, universities, and even the sites of certain public services such as La Poste are regularly targeted by ransomware. These ” ransomware , developed by cybercriminals, infecting victims’ computers and encrypting the data stored on them, making them inaccessible. The only way to find them, according to the criminals, is then very often to pay them a ransom.

But it’s not just companies and hospitals that are designated: a large number of individuals are also affected each year. For 6 years, Europol, the police agency of the European Union, has helped more than 1.5 million people to get rid of ransomware, it announced in a press release on July 26, 2022.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise. // Source: Web
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Cryptolocker is the first truly modern ransomware // Source: Christiaan Colen / Flickr

Hundreds of ransomware listed

It was the “No More Ransom” initiative that helped ransomware victims. The project, launched 6 years ago by Europol and the Dutch police force, offers people likely to decrypt their files thanks to numerous tools – and all without having to pay.

No More Ransom lists a large number of used ransomware, and then offers suitable decryption tools for free. We thus find in the list some famous names like ReVil, the software launched by a group of well-known cybercriminals, or those published by Maze and Egregor, other notorious gangs.

The initiative now offers 136 tools that work with 165 ransomware and its variants — so since its inception in 2016 it has helped 1.5 million people crack their computers. If the figure is good news in itself, it is nevertheless indicative of a trend: unfortunately, the number and severity of attacks are increasing every year.

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An example of ransomware. // Source: Web

A revealing number

The reasons for this are multiple: first of all, equipment is rarely protected as it should be. The security of the computer systems of French hospitals also leaves something to be desired, as the director of Anssi pointed out in September 2021. In addition to the many flaws exploited by cybercriminals, there is also the fact that the people supported are often willing to pay to find their files — or, in the case of hospitals, to restart their computer systems as soon as possible so they can resume operations.

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Source: Netflix

Add to all this the fact that the gangs are resorting to increasingly extreme methods of extortion: they do not hesitate to harass their victims by telephone, to ruin their Google referencing, and they threaten to publish data the victims.

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Ransomware is on the rise. // Source: Web

Above all, even if there are statistics that show that ransomware is increasingly used, the extent of the phenomenon remains largely underestimated by the police. Between the fact that a certain number of victims do not report themselves, that descriptions are missing in 83% of police procedures, or that the police services and those of the gendarmerie do not dispose of them in the same way , the information available to the authorities is only partial.

If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, where your computer has been infected with ransomware, all is not lost. You can use the experts as well as the tools made available by No More Ransom to try to unlock your files. In any case, we advise against paying the required amount: hackers come back if the ransoms are paid, and you risk being attacked a second time.

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A hacker // Source: Azamat E / Unsplash

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