Everyone is aware of the increasing number of cyber attacks the world is currently facing. Whether it is a multinational corporation being hacked and losing confidential client data or the targeting of smaller businesses with weaker IT security in place, the virtual world is no longer safe. It also appears to be developing yet another morally corrupt but ingenious way to target quite literally anyone with a computer. Introducing Popcorn Time, the newest form of ransomware.
Imagine pouring a bag of kernels into a pan of oil (the old school way). It takes a while for anything to happen but once one goes, they all start popping as the heat spreads and they bounce off one another. This is where the term Popcorn Time comes from to describe a new form of ransomware. Now, we should mention here that so far no cases of Popcorn Time malware have been reported but the software is in development and, if launched, could cause widespread havoc. How? By setting off chain reactions, of course!
Traditionally, cyber attacks which lock or encrypt a device and then demand payment for its release have been dubbed ransomware. Quite literally, they are holding your files ransom. Usually payment is conducted in untraceable Bitcoin form but handing over approximately $800 of digital currency doesn’t guarantee your files are unencrypted and your computer restored to normal. Because, well, that would be the ‘moral’ thing to do and clearly hackers who spend their lives trying to circumnavigate IT security systems have problems in this department. The same can be said for their new development too.
Popcorn Time wants something from you and it’s not money. Should this ransomware be released, you will be able to regain access to your computer if you pass on the ‘infection’ to two more people who succumb to the payment solution, making it the first pyramid scheme of its kind. You’d effectively be doing the hacker’s work for them, passing on the evil strain of their infection to others and spreading the cyber attack far and wide. Of course, you can also just pay upfront yourself, something the hackers are expecting most morally sound people to do and is what bankrolls their malicious line of work. But the ability of the technology to spread malware like this is not only new but scary. It also turns anyone who sends the infected link to people into a criminal … and a scumbag.
Luckily, it’s not finished … yet. The software for Popcorn Time was discovered in December 2016 by MalwareHunterTeam, a research group who dedicate their time to identifying cyber threats and making the public aware of them. However, the coding is incomplete and because of its unique approach to ransomware, the hackers are treading unchartered waters. It will hopefully be some time before this innovatively evil and incredibly difficult to defeat IT security threat makes itself known in the public arena as a result. But sooner or later, it appears the face of cyber attacks is going to change forever. No longer are the hackers hidden away in basements across the globe. Now they’re amongst us, friends with us, and, perhaps most worryingly, someone as normal as you or I.