Intel Security has joined forces with Europol, the Dutch National Police and Kasperksy Lab to take on ransomware cyber criminals.
The No More Ransom initiative is an online portal providing tools to help ransomware victims recover their data and offer advice on how to best protect against cyber attacks.
Earlier this month the UK's National Crime Agency claimed in a report that cyber criminals are winning the "cyber-arms race" and that more cooperation between security firms and law enforcement agencies is needed.
Raj Samani (pictured), EMEA CTO at Intel Security, told CRN: "At the moment ransomware victims have two choices - you can pay the criminal or you can not have your data, and that's not really a great set of options, so what do you do?
"Law enforcement will say ‘don't pay', but that's difficult. If it's you sitting their without access to photographs of your children or even your data that you need for your business, that advice isn't great.
"We are giving them a third option where they keep their money and get their data back. It's a win-win situation."
The initiative is a not-for-profit scheme and the free tools are not restricted to just Intel Security and Kasperksy customers.
According to Kaspersky Lab the number of users attacked by crypto-ransomware rose by 550 per cent between 2014 and 2016, up from 131,000 to 718,000.
The 'No More Ransom' website currently offers over 160,000 decryption keys to help victims recover their data.
Jort van der Wiel, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, said: "The biggest problem with crypto-ransomware today is that when users have precious data locked down, they readily pay criminals to get it back.
"That boosts the underground economy and we are facing an increase in the number of new players and the number of attacks as a result.
"We expect this project to be extended, and soon there will be many more companies and law enforcement agencies from other countries and regions fighting ransomware together."
Samani added that the initiative is open to all law enforcement agencies and security firms globally.
"It's an open door," he said. "If you have something that you can add value to this particular collective then by all means get int ouch and we will welcome anyone else joining."
"As and when keys become available we will release them through there. How often will that be? That depends on how many people we get participating and how successful operations are.
"If the bad guys invest in being more ellusive then it takes longer, but every single download that we get, every visitors that we get is a success - another person doing back ups and not paying criminals, or not paying the ransom and using the decryption tools."
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