We’ve all heard about ransomware that takes your data hostage until you pay up – now things have got a little more personal…

Popcorn Time (PT) is a newly discovered form of ransomware that is giving victims the opportunity to recover their locked files for free.

Are we seeing a softer side to hackers? Afraid not. Upon receiving the warning notification that their files have been locked, victims are given two options.

  1. As with any typical infection, you are instructed to pay a ransom and after your payment has been received, you should be provided with a decryption code to recover your files. You’re asked to cough up one bitcoin, which is currently £613.20.
  2. PT hackers describe the second option as the ‘nasty way’. If you pass the malware link on to two or more people, the hackers will decrypt your files for free.

Popcorn Time was recently exposed by security researchers at MalwareHunterTeam.
Unfortunately as technology advances every year, hacking techniques also evolve and become more sophisticated, or in this case, malicious.

Popcorn Time twitter-screenshot

If you were to take the second option and pass this on to others, putting the moral implications aside for a moment, the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act deems deliberately dispensing malware to other potential victims illegal.

So, not only could you lose a friend or two, but you could also find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

As with any form of ransomware, paying a ransom fee is not a guarantee that you’ll be given a decryption code to recover your files. To sprinkle more salt into the wound, the hackers advise that if the wrong decryption code is entered it could lead to the locked files being deleted entirely.

The creators of PT provide an explanation as to why they’ve pursued this line of work. Stating that they are Syrian and the ransom money will be used to help those in need of medicine, shelter and food.

If you have concerns about leaving your business open to the unexpected or just want advice about IT security, get in touch with our experts at Riverbank on enquiries@riverbank.co.uk or call 01235 426700.