NoMoreRansom's first birthday demonstrates importance of collaboration

Posted by   Martijn Grooten on   Jul 27, 2017

This week, the NoMoreRansom project celebrates its first anniversary and can look back to subtle but important successes in the fight against ransomware.


The advice from security experts to ransomware victims tends to be twofold: keep backups, and don't pay the ransom. The former is indeed very important advice, but isn't really helpful when ransomware has already encrypted all one's important files and the task of making a backup never left the 'to-do' list. The latter is also very sensible advice, as one wouldn't want to pay possibly unreliable criminals – except as a last resort.

Victims tend to be very bad at knowing what constitutes the last resort. Maybe decryption isn't possible because the authors have completely messed up, or had other motives for encrypting the victim's files (on his blog, Bart Parys, a VB2017 speaker, provides a good overview of such motives). Maybe files aren't encrypted at all and the ransomware merely claims they have been.

Or maybe mistakes made by the malware authors, a change of heart among those authors, or the discovery of private keys by law enforcement has led to the release of a recovery tool. It is here that NoMoreRansom's website is particularly useful: victims can upload encrypted files, the site attempts to identify the ransomware with which they have been infected, and determines whether it is one of dozens for which a decryption tool is available.

Unfortunately, decryption tools aren't available for all ransomware variants and some of the most common, such as Locky (the subject of a VB2016 paper) and Cerber (the subject of a VB2017 paper) appear to avoid making mistakes. A site like NoMoreRansom can't change this, and ultimately it is up to the victim of such ransomware to decide whether to take the risk of paying. But the project does at least reduce the chances of someone paying for nothing.

When I first joined the world of IT security a decade ago, I was genuinely surprised to see competitors working together to fight a common threat. The NoMoreRansom project, which includes more than 100 partners from the private and public sector, is an excellent example of such cooperation and it will have made a real different for many ransomware victims.




Latest posts:

VB2017 paper: The life story of an IPT - Inept Persistent Threat actor

At VB2017 in Madrid, Polish security researcher and journalist Adam Haertlé presented a paper about a very inept persistent threat. Today, we publish both the paper and the recording of Adam's presentation.

Five reasons to submit a VB2018 paper this weekend

The call for papers for VB2018 closes on 18 March, and while we've already received many great submissions, we still want more! Here are five reasons why you should submit a paper this weekend.

First partners of VB2018 announced

We are excited to announce the first six companies to partner with VB2018.

VB2018: looking for technical and non-technical talks

We like to pick good, solid technical talks for the VB conference programme, but good talks don't have to be technical and we welcome less technical submissions just as much.

Partner with VB2018 for extra visibility among industry peers

Partnering with the VB conference links your company to a successful and well-established event, demonstrates your commitment to moving the industry forward, allows you to meet potential clients, be visible to industry peers and build lasting…