If you didn’t know what ransomware was at the start of this year, chances are that you do now. It’s been the biggest cybersecurity story of 2016 for both businesses and consumers. Back in February, a Hollywood hospital was forced to pay $17,000 in bitcoin to get its systems back online after an attack; while over the Thanksgiving weekend, ransomware hit San Francisco’s Muni Metro, forcing it to give passengers free rides. It has also found to be spreading in malicious images files on Facebook and LinkedIn.
What’s more, attacks targeting companies have trebled since January 2016. According to a new report, they have been reaching a frequency of one every 40 seconds, impacting one in five businesses worldwide; for consumers it’s even worse, with an attack every 10 seconds.
It’s time to fight back against the ransomware epidemic – which is why Check Point has joined the global No More Ransom (NMR) project, to contribute our expertise, help to develop new solutions and offer new possibilities to the victims of ransomware. No More Ransom was launched in summer 2016 by the Dutch National Police, Europol and cybersecurity vendors to introduce a new level of cooperation between law enforcement and the private sector to fight ransomware together. Members now include enforcement agencies from 22 countries across Europe, as well as The European Commission and cybersecurity specialist companies.
At the www.nomoreransom.org portal, users can find detailed information on what ransomware is, how to protect themselves against it and most importantly, attack victims can find a range of free tools to help them unlock and decrypt devices scrambled by a range of ransomware variants, all at no cost. As an associated partner, Check Point’s Jigsaw puzzle decryptor, which was launched back in July 2016, is also listed on the site alongside other 32 decryptor tools.
These tools have been created based on cybercriminals’ implementation errors, reverse engineering of algorithms, law enforcement actions or data leaked by criminals online. Victims only need to upload two encrypted files and the ransom note they received in order to check for available decryption solutions.
We believe this close cooperation between the private sector and international law enforcement is pivotal in fighting the cybercriminals that use ransomware to deprive their victims of large amounts of money, and in helping to take down and nullify the growing numbers of large-scale ransomware campaigns.
Wider awareness among businesses and consumers is also key to helping prevent ransomware from being successful – and all can contribute to the common good. Even simple protection measures can prevent a lot of damage: such as always having back-ups in place so a ransomware infection can’t destroy sensitive data forever; using robust antimalware to protect systems from ransomware; keeping all the software on your PCs updated with the latest patches, and being suspicious of incoming emails from unknown parties, or suspicious-looking emails that appear to come from known contacts. And if you’re unfortunate enough to be hit by ransomware, here are our own tips on how to respond to the attack.
Ransomware is a problem for every Internet user, from the largest enterprises to consumers browsing on their mobile devices. We are all in it together, and by collaborating in global initiatives like No More Ransom, we can also defeat it together.