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Police partner with anti-ransomware website to help scam victims

NZ Police has become a supporting partner of an organisation which undercuts criminals by tricking them into encrypting their own data.

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Victims include shipping companies, oil giants, big-name legal firms and nuclear power plants. Source: 1 NEWS

Ransomware has been on the rise across the globe in the past few years, and the number of victims has also grown.

The scam typically works when people are tricked into downloading and running software on their computer which encrypts all of the files it contains - documents, photos, software and other data can no longer be accessed.

The computer essentially becomes un-usable, with the scammers offering to unlock it for a one-off fee.

Police said in a release today that it is partnering with the No More Ransom project, which maintains a list of software and keys used to decrypt computers which have suffered ransomware attacks, and gives them out for free.

Detective superintendent Iain Chapman, who serves as acting national crime manager, said the project is likely to be of benefit to New Zealand ransomware victims.

"We know the losses from ransomware are likely to be much higher than those reported to authorities," Mr Chapman said.

"This is because a significant number of those affected by ransomware do not report incidents to authorities."

No More Ransom estimates that, since it was launched in 2016, more than $108 million in ransom payments has been prevented.

"In general, those behind ransomware attacks demand around US$200 from victims to unlock their computers," Mr Chapman said.

"Many victims pay up, making ransomware attacks a very profitable business for the offenders.

"No More Ransom completely disrupts their business model and puts the power back in the hands of the victims."

More information can be found at nomoreransom.org.