Russia's Kaspersky Lab has teamed up with Intel Security, Europol and Dutch police to create a new product to fight ransomware, a type of malware that locks a user's computer or encrypts their files.
Once the computer has been hijacked by ransomware, cyber-criminals demand a ransom to give data back, and like ordinary kidnappers, there is no guarantee they will be true to their word.
A Kaspersky representative told Radio Sputnik that their collaboration has come up with free software to help victims of ransomware.
"This is a very practical project, working together with law enforcement agencies and industry partners to share information about ransomware, and especially about ransomware threats," he said.
"In the end, we are able to find the command and control servers which hold the keys from the victims (of ransomware). Next, the police tries to seize the server with all the keys, they share it with us, and we make decryption tools so that people can decrypt their files for free," he explained.
"All the tools are free of charge, that's the whole idea – we don't charge users anything. We want to pull the angle out of ransomware, we don't want it to be successful anymore and that's why we're going after the servers with the keys so we can give users the possibility to decrypt their file for free."
The new initiative is called "No More Ransom," and so far it contains more than 160,000 keys which will help victims to retrieve their data.
According to Kaspersky, the number of victims of ransomware is growing at an alarming rate: in 2014-2015 there were 131,000, which rose to 718,000 in 2015-2016.