Tips 2 min. read

Popcorn Time: Why it’s more dangerous than most ransomware

Popcorn Time: Why it’s more dangerous than most ransomware

Ransomware attacks have proven themselves to be one of the biggest online threats to emerge in the last few years, being deemed a billion-dollar problem in 2016 from a mere nuisance when they were first discovered around the mid-2000s. What makes ransomware infections even more alarming is that the mode of attacks are becoming more sophisticated. Take the ransomware strain named Popcorn Time, for example.

Discovered in early December in 2016 by the Malware Hunter Team, Popcorn Time works just like any other ransomware would today. First, it encrypts and locks away the victim’s files and data upon infecting the device. After that, it flashes a message on the infected screen to prompt the victim to pay the ransom. A form which the victim can use to pay up as well as a timer is then shown.

But unlike most of the other notorious ransomware strains such as Cerber and Locky, wherein the only file recovery option is by paying the ransom, Popcorn time offers another option; it lets off a victim who is not willing to shell out money for the recovery of the encrypted files, with the condition that that victim must infect two other users. If the two new victims decide to pay up or infect other devices, the assisting victim is given the decryption key for the locked files for free.

Calling it an “affiliate program” by the perpetrators, this is a unique characteristic that makes the seemingly common strain more dangerous than the typical ransomware strain found today. It forces a victim to become an accessory to the crime while also increasing the rate at which the ransomware spreads around. For the perpetrators, this means more victims and potentially bigger revenues.

The discovery of popcorn time is proof that we haven’t seen the worst when it comes to ransomware. It paves a new way for other hackers to victimize more users and rake in more money, and is proof that cyber criminals are continuously thinking of innovative ways to do their bidding.

Avoid infections with a malware safety VPN

It is currently not known where exactly Popcorn Time infections are taking place. There’s a chance that it’s being distributed the same way other malware strains are, including via downloads on adult sites, drive-by downloads, and infected links on social media (from friends who have been infected).

If you want to stay protected, it’s best to avoid these, and one effective way to do so is by downloading Hotspot Shield, the best malware safety VPN. Using a database of websites and links that are known to contain malware, Hotspot Shield VPN prevents infections by notifying you if the page you’re trying to visit is infected. It then blocks that site from being accessed for your safety.

Aside from being a malware safety VPN, Hotspot Shield has other benefits that you can enjoy for free, including access to blocked content and advanced encryption for your passwords and credit card details.

Avoid the Popcorn Time ransomware and help stop the spread by downloading Hotspot Shield on your device today! Visit the Hotspot Shield VPN website to learn more about its features and visit our other blogs for more tips on malware safety VPN usage.

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