Michael Gillespie, a programmer who works at Nerds on Call in Normal, Illinois, creates and provides — for free — decryption keys for thousands of ransomware victims around the world. Thwarting hackers’ attempts to extort thousands of dollars, Gillespie has been honored by the FBI. Yet cancer treatment bills almost led to the foreclosure of the house he shares with his high school sweetheart and 10 pets.
How did he survive? Fellow international ransomware fighters donated money to Gillespie’s website and got him a part-time job creating decryption tools.