Cyber security firms have teamed up with Dutch police and Europol to launch a website dedicated to fighting the surge in ransomware.

Ransomware is malware which encrypts valuable digital files on a computer or device – and potentially other computers on the same network – then demands a ransom for their release.

If the recipient of the email opens an attachment containing the malicious code or clicks on a link that infects their computer with the malicious software, a certain number of their files are then locked.

They only become aware of the attack through computer messages which demand the ransom, usually in anonymous currency bitcoin.

Ransoms have typically been in the low hundreds of pounds – or even less – making it likely that victims will pay up to receive an encryption key and get their files back.

That in turn feeds the underground ecosystem, encouraging hackers to continue with their lucrative line in criminality.

Software security specialists Kaspersky Lab reported a 17.7 per cent rise in ransomware attacks in the 12 months leading up to March 2016, a total of 2.32 million upon an estimated 58 per cent of corporate PCs worldwide.

And it has also emerged that the cyber gangs are employing customer services teams and are willing to negotiate on price and deadline.

However the ‘No More Ransom’ website - www.nomoreransom.org - will be dedicated to recovering files without the need to pay up, featuring more than 160,000 decryption keys.

A statement issued by Europol said it is "aimed at informing the public about the dangers of ransomware and helping victims to recover their data without having to pay ransoms to cyber criminals.

"Ransomware is a top threat for EU law enforcement. Almost two-thirds of EU member states are conducting investigations into this form of attack."

Experts from Pentest recently told BusinessCloud how their 'ethical hacking' can guard against ransomware attacks and find out whether companies' training of employees is working or not.

One of the latest forms of ransomware, nicknamed ‘Shade’, has been repelled 27,000 times by Kaspersky Lab and Intel Security software.

"Most infections occurred in Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Austria and Kazakhstan. Shade activity was also registered in France, the Czech Republic, Italy and the United States," the statement added.

"By making the payment you will be supporting the criminals' business.

“Plus, there is no guarantee that paying the fine will give you back access to the encrypted data.”