1.5 million ransomware victims did not 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 does the number of such software.

Computer attacks have become commonplace: hospitals, universities and even the sites of certain public services such as La Poste are regularly targeted by ransomware. This one ” ransomware Developed by cyber criminals, it infects victims’ computers and encrypts the data on them, making them inaccessible. The only way to find them, according to the criminals, is to pay a ransom very often.

But it’s not just companies and hospitals that are targeted: a large number of individuals are also affected every year. Europol, the European Union’s police station, has been helping more than 1.5 million people get rid of ransomware for 6 years, it said in a press release on July 26, 2022.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise. // Source: Canva
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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. Launched 6 years ago by Europol and the Dutch police, the project offers those affected the opportunity to decrypt their files using numerous tools – all without having to pay.

No More Ransom lists a large number of used ransomware and then offers suitable decryption tools for free. So in the list we find some well-known names such as ReVil, the software launched by a group of very well-known cyber criminals, or the one 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. While the figure itself is good news, it nevertheless points to a trend: unfortunately, the number and severity of attacks is increasing every year.

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An example of ransomware. // Source: Canva

A revealing figure

The reasons for this are multiple: first, equipment is rarely protected as it should be. The security of the computer systems of French hospitals would also leave something to be desired, as the director of Anssi noted in September 2021. In addition to the many flaws exploited by cybercriminals, there is also the fact that affected people are often willing to pay to find their files — or, in the case of hospitals, to reboot their IT systems as quickly as possible, so that they can resume their activities.

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Add to that the fact that the gangs are resorting to increasingly extreme extortion methods: they don’t hesitate to harass their victims by phone, ruin their Google credentials and threaten to publish data about the victims.

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Ransomware is on the rise. // Source: Canva

Above all, even if there are statistics showing that ransomware is being used more and more, the magnitude 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 the police procedures, or that the police and the gendarmerie do not treat them in the same way, the information available to the authorities is only partial.

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

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A hacker // Source: Azamat E / Unsplash

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