Dutch cops help over 300 decrypt ransomware

Online platform No More Ransom, launched by the Dutch police, helped at least 300 Dutch people get rid of ransomware on their computers in the three years of its existence. Over 2.5 million people worldwide have consulted the platform, the police said in a statement on Thursday. 

The idea for the No More Ransom platform came to the police after the arrest of two brothers from Amersfoort, who had extorted money out of many people worldwide by infecting their computers with ransomware - a type of malware that locks access to your files unless you pay the person behind it a 'ransom' for a key to decrypt your files. 

That the two suspects were Dutch was just a coincidence, according to Marijn Schuurbiers of the police's High Tech Crime team. "Like many forms of cybercrime, ransomware is a global problem. But this Dutch case turned out to be the ideal starting point for the establishment of 'No More Ransom'. During the investigation we encountered not only the suspects, but also several large key sets, for which victims normally have to pay to get their files back. We could now offer these keys for free on the No More Ransom platform."

While the platform started out as a Dutch police initiative, it has since grown into an international network with parties like Europol, McAfee and Amazon also joining up. "Police teams and security companies around the world regularly provide 'keys' and other tools that offer a free solution for the many types of hostage software", the police said. 

The police urge people who fall victim to ransomware to first check the No More Ransom platform for whether a decryption tool is already available for the type of malware they've been infected with. "If it isn't there yet, keep an eye on the site. There is a chance that a solution for your variant will be added", the police said. 

And never pay the ransom, the police stressed. "Then the criminal business model remains in place and the malware is not completely removed from your computer even after payment. There is a chance that the criminals will re-encrypt your files at a later time."