New ransomware variant offers free decryption key to victims if they infect 2 others

A new ransomware variant offers its victims a free decryption key if they infect two or more other internet users with the malware that pay the ransom. The malware is called Popcorn Time and like all other ransomware it encrypts files after which it demands a ransom.


Popcorn Time was discovered by security researchers from MalwareHunterTeam who report that victims of the ransomware need to pay 1 Bitcoin ($770) to get their files decrypted. Users that are unable or don’t want to pay can also opt for another option. If they are able to infect two or more others with the Popcorn Time ransomware, and these victims pay the ransom, then they get a free decryption key.

In order to be eligible, users have to point their victims to the ransomware, hosted the anonymous Tor network, using a specially generated link. If users don’t pay within 7 days, the decryption key is deleted and all files will be lost.

The developers of the ransomware claim that they are a group of computer science students from Syria and that the paid ransom is used to get food, medicine and shelter. They claim that they are forcing victims to pay, “as it’s the only way they can keep living”.