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Bloomington Ransomware Fighter Earns FBI Award

Cyber agent investigates electronic intrusion

The FBI is honoring a Bloomington man for helping curb cybercrime.

The Community Leadership award for the Springfield division of the FBI goes to Michael Gillespie of the website Ransomware Malware Hunter. That site helps victims of ransomware to submit ransom notes from their computers and encrypted file samples to help determine which kind of software infects their computers.

Ransomware infects computers, often encrypts data, and then tries to extort money to return control of the device to its owner.

The FBI said ID Ransomware sometimes receives thousands of requests for help per day and can ID more than 500 types of malicious software. Sometimes decryption of  hard drives is possible.

Gillespie develops custom applications which he offers free of charge to victims to help them recover from ransomware attacks. Examples of these tools are RansomNoteCleaner, which removes ransom notes left behind after a ransomware infection, and CryptoSearch, a tool used to find files encrypted with ransomware. He is a software analyst.

Gillespie is one of 56 individuals or organizations around the United States who will receive the FBI Director's award this year.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.