There is a very good chance you may not have heard about the new ransomware going around lately but I can tell you it is very deadly. About 4 or 5 days ago there was some rumors flying around of a new malware called Popcorn Time. Most dismissed it as a spoof or a publicity stunt to bring attention to the popular application for streaming; however, the rumors that this was a hoax have been debunked thanks to a hacker group known as MalwareHunterGroup. The creators of Popcorn Time ransomware claim to be hackers from Syria trying to feed the hungry and cloth the poor this group is out to make a profit off your hard earned money. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what ransomware is I will break it down for you and show you how this one is quite serious.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is malicious software that gets installed on your computer system and encrypts all of your files until a payment has been made. If one does not meet the payment terms (completely set by the person running the ransomware) the system will delete all of your files on your pc.
Some ransomware will lock your pc down and require you pay to get an encryption key to unlock your system. This may be reversible if the person is knowledgeable enough in cryptography. The more advanced ransomware will actually encrypt all files and not give you access until you have paid the ransom to get your files back in a specific allotted time frame. This can be anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks and I can tell you they are not bluffing. I have known several people who have chosen the two routes you can go and when they received payment the files were locked and for the others who chose not to… well they lost everything.
Why is Popcorn Time Ransomware So Dangerous?
This new Popcorn Time ransomware is extremely dangerous because it has taken things one step further which will be explained shortly. They allow you one of two options to get your files back and I can tell you neither is that attractive. Once you get infected with the Popcorn Time ransomware you will receive the following message giving you seven (7) days to make payment to gain access to your files again. They are requiring 1 bitcoin for payment to unlock your files. For those of us who are not using bitcoin on a regular basis that equates to $789.00, 756.00€ or 632.00£.
As I mentioned, there are two ways you are able to regain access to your files if you are hit with this malware. The first is to just make payment, get a copy of the decryption key and enter it. However, at this point many do not have the extra money laying around to get their files back; especially with the holiday season in full gear and most people are putting their hard earned cash towards gifts for loved ones. This second option is much more diabolic and truly ruins the holiday gift giving season. The second option to provide payment is to infect two (2) others infected with this ransomware and get them to provide payment. They literally will test how evil you are because they give you an option to try saving yourself by sacrificing two others you know will pay, because as you read below it says “if two or more people will install this file and pay, we will decrypt your files for free”.
What to do if I get infected?
The first thing to do if you get infected is to realize that the second option above is not really an option you can take for several reasons. Most are not going to go and infect people they know and require friends, family, or co-workers to have to pay because it is unethical to do. Something to also take into account is besides being unethical it can be considered illegal and you could face charges. Now that we have agreed we are not going to sacrifice our loved ones for our favorite songs and pictures from our first vacation we have to accept this and deal with it.
You can choose to pay the ransom and get your files back and there is nothing illegal about submitting a payment for the service of decrypting your files. Another route you could go is to remove the virus by visiting pcrisk and following the guide they have created to remove the virus and restore your files.
Unfortunately, there are many ways to get infected with a virus, malware, or a trojan horse and understanding how you can get hit will help you limit your exposure. You can pick up any of these backdoor programs by clicking on a link that has been exposed to the virus or malware; this is why many suggest using browsers that are less popular because you can limit your exposure. Also making sure you have macros disabled on your Microsoft applications as hackers can hide the code in these files and when you open them you are infected. Using sites that offer free software, peer-to-peer file sharing, and opening spam or unrecognized emails are also ways you put yourself at risk as the hackers will attach the virus to the files you are trying to download and once again now you have them. The biggest thing you want to do is make sure your anti-virus software is up to date and you keep yourself apprised of what is going on in the cyber world to keep yourself prepared.