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TeslaCrypt creators freely give up the master key to their ransomware

The creators of the TeslaCrypt ransomware have decided to give up possession of the master key needed to decrypt files infected with their malware.

A researcher at the IT security company Eset noticed that TeslaCrypt appeared to be gradually declining across the web. He then pretended to be a victim of the ransomware and reached out to its authors to whom he pleaded for a key. In what would have seemed unthinkable in the heyday of TeslaCrypt, they obliged and provided him with a free master key. Using the key, the Eset research was quickly able to develop a free universal decryption tool.

White hat hackers at Kaspersky labs were then able to produce a decryption tool for the Cryptxxx malware as well. Now victims of two of the worst ransomware tools to ever exist on the Internet will be able to decrypt their infected files for free.

TeslaCrypt gained notoriety when it was used in a series of massive malvertising attacks against visitors to popular websites. It originally targeted users with specific video games such as Minecraft and World of Warcraft installed on their systems and encrypted the saved files associated with those games. Victims then had to pay the equivalent of $500 in bitcoins to unlock their saved files. Newer versions of TeslaCrypt branched out from video games and encrypted documents stored on a users' computer.

Decryption tools are rarely released and often only come available after white hats are able to find vulnerabilities in a ransomware. The fact that the creators of TeslaCrypt released their master key freely is an unheard of event in the world of ransomware as it renders it useless and removes the possibility of any more payments from users with infected files.

Image Credit: Juliannedev / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.