New ransomware offers victims free decryption key if they infect other people

By midian182 ยท 8 replies
Dec 12, 2016
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  1. Hackers have done the impossible and found a way to make ransomware even more awful. The new variant still locks down a computer’s files, with the decryption key only being handed over once a victim pays up, but this malware offers another option: infect two more targets to get the unlock key for free.

    Anyone who finds they’ve been infected with “Popcorn Time,” which is named after (but not related) to the BitTorrent client, will find their files locked with AES-256 encryption. It will remain in place unless a ransom of one bitcoin (about $779.50 dollars) is paid to an anonymous wallet within seven days.

    Or, people could opt for what the developers are calling “the nasty way.” Popcorn Time’s warning message includes a link for victims to share, which will pass the malware onto others. If two or more people open the file and end up paying the ransom, the person who was originally infected will receive a free decryption key.

    Popcorn Time was discovered on the Dark Web by malware forensic experts MalwareHunterTeam. It’s still in development, but its nefarious distribution method means it could spread quickly if released in the wild.

    If all this doesn’t sound bad enough, Bleeping Computer’s Lawrence Abrams discovered unfinished code in Popcorn Time that indicated if a user entered the wrong decryption key four times, it would start deleting files. There’s no guarantee this feature will make it into the final version, but it’s a strong possibility, given the other unpleasant aspects of the malware.

    MalwareHunterTeam has posted some screenshots from Popcorn Time, revealing that the developers are purportedly Syrian computer science students. They claim the victims’ money “will be used for food, medicine, and shelter to those in need.”

    "We are extremely sorry that we are forcing you to pay but that's the only way that we can keep living," reads the message.

    Permalink to story.

  2. cartera

    cartera TS Evangelist Posts: 374   +119

    Two fake email addresses and deliberately infect two virtual machines with them. That's seems too easy though.....
  3. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,279

    Evil and cynical as well... I like it. ;) Anyway, if anyone is on the darkweb engaging in dark and dirty deeds and they get infected by this, tough! I've got no sympathy for them.
  4. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,467   +1,025

    But! If you actually read, would've noticed they need to pay up in order for you to get the key, so it's not just infecting them.
    DaveBG and cliffordcooley like this.
  5. cartera

    cartera TS Evangelist Posts: 374   +119

    Damn, I knew I was too quick with that.
    TheDreams and Kibaruk like this.
  6. andy06shake

    andy06shake TS Evangelist Posts: 478   +152

    I think the two virtual machines would need to pay up before they would release your own system. ;)
    thelanceleader likes this.
  7. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 10,232   +4,157

    Yep, buy two unlocks and get the third one free.
    Nickspiracy likes this.
  8. sac39507

    sac39507 TS Addict Posts: 165   +54

    "We are extremely sorry that we are forcing you to pay but that's the only way that we can keep living?"

    How about be like the rest of the people in this world and get a JOB. Coders get 6 figure salaries. Not too shabby.
  9. MannerMauler

    MannerMauler TS Addict Posts: 197   +48

    As much as I agree with you, I'd figure that'd be kinda hard when you're being blown up and no one will take you in, computer coder or not.

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