It’s not rare that I write about malware attacking people’s computers - or warning people against certain types of malware. But there’s always a new twist to the newest malware out there.
This time around, that twist comes in the form of malware that not only attacks your computer but asks you to give up two people in the process.
Clever? Smart? Tricky? It’s ransomware at its finest.
The True Definition of Ransom
The latest malware named ‘Popcorn Time’ asks for a one time payment of around $700. But if people do not want to pay that amount, there’s a second option. They can give up the names of two other people. If the person that wants to avoid the steep fee passes on two links successfully, the malware will be removed from that person’s computer.
In other words, victims of Popcorn Time have two options. Pay the fee or pass along the malware links to friends. If the second option is chosen, those friends have to download the malware successfully. This pyramid type scheme is largely successful because people would rather give up two friends than pay to have malware removed.
What to Do
Typically, it’s not worth it to pay a fee in order to have malware removed by some anonymous hacking group. Why? Often, that code is never removed and all files are wiped anyway. When this happens, money is lost and there’s nothing anyone can do to get it back. Further, funding hackers of this nature isn’t a positive thing - it just fuels the fire. But now people have another choice.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that malware will be removed if you do pass along the link to two friends. So it’s likely that you’ll lose two friends, infect their computers, and still have malware on your own computer. For some reason, though, this malware is getting around because people are passing it on successfully to others.
Unfortunately, if you do have malware on your computer and are asked to provide any type of ransom, it’s not so simple to get rid of it. In this case, it may or may not be a good idea to give up a friend or two (probably not a good idea, though, unless there’s someone out there that you do not like and want to give this problem to!). In most cases, you’ll have to say goodbye to the files on your computer.
What is highly recommended is to never open up a link that comes from someone you do not recognize, but that is not good enough this time around. Infected links might come from someone you do know. So my advice is not to open up any random links that someone you know sends to you.
If it seems odd that someone is sending you a link, it might be because that person wants to infect your system with malware. To be on the safe side, you might not want to open up any links from anyone, no matter what you think the reason might be.