Ransomware has been around for a while, and it’s a pretty nasty thing as it encrypts users’ files and forces them to pay. Now, a group of hackers, allegedly from Syria, have create a new type that gives victims a choice: they either pay up, or they infect two new users to have access to their files again.
This new type of ransomware, named Popcorn Time (unrelated to the Popcorn Time software you use to watch movies), is different from the type that hit the San Francisco Metro System last month. It forces users to either pay 1 Bitcoin, or to send their friends a link that will infect them with the ransomware. If the victim’s friends pay up, then the victim gains access to its files for free.
Popcorn Time and its pyramid scheme were discovered by security researchers at MalwareHunterTeam, who also found out it is still under development. When finished, it cold spread rather easily, per The Guardian
Get the Code Wrong 4 Times, and Lose Your Files
Popcorn Time doesn’t just innovate in its marketing scheme. This new ransomware can also delete a victims’ files is they get the decryption code wrong 4 times. It’s still unknown whether this is a real threat, or if it’s simply a way to scare users so they’ll pay.
Other ransomware masters have, in the past, innovated in other ways. There are even known cases of helpdesks being available to victims so they can negotiate their ransom.
As the Chief of Security Strategy Jeremiah Grossman at cybersecurity firm SentinelOne puts it:
The bad guys are making a lot of money and they’re going to make a lot more money. A certain percentage of those funds are going to go into research and development for them to try new things
Although it is unknown whether Popcorn Time becomes a viral form of ransomware, it is known hackers will study its system to see how they can improve. The best way to stay safe is to use preventive measures in order to avoid getting infected.
Image from Shutterstock.