Hacking Horror Story: This Ransomware Turns You into the Villain

October 25th, 2018 by admin

Hacker behind graphic user interface It’s nearly Halloween. There’s an eerie feeling in the air. The thought of ghosts, goblins, and other other-worldly visitors fills our thoughts. Scarier than these monsters that lurk under our beds is this unwanted intruder to your computer. You don’t want to run into this malware in a dark alley; it’s all trick and no treat. Most ransomware is fairly straight forward; fork over what the hackers want, and they’ll release your stolen data. One particularly frightening strain called Popcorn Time (not related to the streaming application) makes things a little more interesting. To decrypt your files, you can either pay the ransom of one Bitcoin, or do things the “nasty” way: infect two friends, and get them to pay up. This twisted virus turns you into a cybercriminal, and throws you into a malicious pyramid scheme of sorts. Not to mention the paranoia that come with trying to figure out which of your friends or contacts infected you to take the target off their back! To make matters worse, Popcorn Time will start randomly deleting files if you enter the wrong decryption key too many times. Popcorn Time introduces an ethical dilemma that can only be the work of an evil genius, right? Maybe not. According to the popup message, the creators claim to be computer science students from Syria, frustrated with the lack of help they have received in their war-torn state. They assure their prey that the money will go towards food, medicine and shelter, and even go so far as to apologize for the cyber-attack.   The good news is that Popcorn Time’s code isn’t perfect, and is reportedly does not contain the code necessary to delete files. Thankfully, this maniacal malware seems to have had its day back in late 2016, and is no longer much of a threat. As with any scary story, let it serve as a cautionary tale to be a little safer with your data. If you have your files backed up, you—and your friends list—have nothing to worry about.   Hannah Webb

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