Intel Corporation, Kaspersky, Europol Counter Ransomware

Intel, the world’s largest chip maker, will be collaborating with the European police agency Europol and Kaspersky to tackle the exponential growth of ransomware use by criminals. Europol announced its collaboration with Intel and police and security expert Kaspersky Lab from the Netherlands on Monday.

Intel Corporation, Kaspersky, Europol Counter Ransomware

A joint effort by Intel, Europol, Kaspersky Lab

To inform people about the dangers of ransomware and aid victims in recovering their data without having to fork over money to criminals, the agency and the companies launched an online portal called “No More Ransom.”

Security expert Kaspersky said paying those who take your data hostage only makes the ransomware problem even worse. Ransomware steals the user’s data and holds it hostage, compelling companies and individuals to pay criminals to regain control of that data. According to research by Kaspersky, the number of ransomware attacks has hiked more than fivefold, from 131,111 to 718,536, between 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.

Ransomware has become a dominant concern for EU law enforcement for a few years now, said Wil van Gemert,- Europol’s deputy director of operations.

“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,” the executive said.

Another option for ransomware victims

Jornt van der Wiel, a security researcher at Kaspersky, said victims of ransomware boost the underground economy by coughing up on demand, and this in turn boosts the number of criminals and number of attacks.

“We can only change the situation if we coordinate our efforts to fight against ransomware,” he said.

It’s estimated that the number of ransomware victims tripled in the first three months of 2016. The “No More Ransom” website will connect police and victims and give advice to victims. Further, police will help in data recovery as well.

The online portal brings together information about what ransomware is and explains how to avoid falling victim and what to do if one is caught. Victims will be able to upload scrambled files to detect the strain of ransomware that has locked up their data. One of the partners of the project said that as ransomware gangs are tackled, the “No More Ransom” site will be updated.

Raj Samani, the European head of Intel Security, said the only options victims have right now are to pay the ransom or not, and this (portal) gives people another option.