Ransomware has become the latest evil on the internet. The number of victims falling to ransomware attacks either due to negligence or lack of awareness about good internet usage practices has been on a rise since the past couple of years. Almost all ransomware attacks are accompanied by a demand for payment in Bitcoin.
Due to the rising attacks, media outlets, cyber security firms and even law enforcement agencies have started advising internet users on safe internet usage practices. One of the main commandments of safe internet usage rule book is to not open any attachments or links received from untrusted sources. As more people become aware of the ways cyber criminals adapt to infect unsuspecting users with malicious programs, hackers have found a new way to keep their revenue source intact.
According to reports, the perpetrators behind Popcorn Time ransomware have adopted a network/referral marketing strategy to infect more users. The messages received by victims now include more than a Bitcoin wallet address. It also comes with a referral link that can be used to infect other systems. Victims who use the referral link to infect other computers will receive the decryption key for free (provided two of them pays the ransom).
Victims of Popcorn Time ransomware are given a week’s time to choose between the two available options, they can either choose to pay 1 BTC as ransom or infect more computers and get their decryption key for free. The inbuilt failsafe makes it even worse for those who decide against both the options. If a wrong decryption key is entered into the system more than four times, the malware will start deleting all the existing files.
The malicious software is named after a popular torrent video streaming software, Popcorn Time. By including the referral link, the hackers have increased the probability of infection as well as payments. If a victim decides to send the link to people in his network, the unsuspecting recipients are more likely to download and install the ransomware as they would have received it from a trusted source. At the same time, if the victim has a conscience then he is more likely to pay the ransom instead of sending it to others.
Popcorn Time ransomware has further worsened the condition of internet users. Now, they have to think twice before opening files sent by those whom they know. Popcorn Time has further blurred the definition of “Trusted Source”.
Ref: IBT | Image: NewsBTC