Ransomware is still one the biggest computer threats out there. In 2017 alone, ransomware attacks on businesses have tripled from 2016, all updated with new variants and advanced techniques. Ransomware is always evolving, as cybercriminals change their code to suit their needs and to elude security software.
One thing remains constant, however - cybercriminals almost always use ransomware to extort money from their victims. It's a big profit generating scheme, after all, and why mess with a tried and tested formula? Lock files then demand payment, rinse and repeat, it's as simple as that.
But once in a while, we encounter a rare strain of ransomware that defies all logic and common sense. In a weird twist, this newly discovered ransomware doesn't ask for money at all. Rather, it wants you to waste your time playing a video game instead.
I don't want money!
This new ransomware that's making the rounds has one strange claim to fame - its author proudly states "I don't want money!"
Nicknamed PUBG Ransomware, it starts off like any garden-variety ransomware as it locks your files and folders if you unwittingly run its executable.
Most ransomware will demand payment at this point but with what can only be a cruel prank, PUBG Ransomware demands that you play an hour of a game called PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds to get your files back.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, also known as PUBG for short, is a popular online multiplayer game where a hundred players are dropped into a virtual island, where they scavenge for supplies and weapons to violently battle each other for survival.
Note: Do not confuse PUBG with this other online game called Fortnite (Battle Royale) but they do have many things in common. They're both multiplayer games and they share the same premise and mechanics. They're also both so wildly popular right now, particularly with teenagers.
Two methods to decrypt your files
So here's how it works. Once PUBG Ransomware successfully locks your files with the .PUBG extension, it will display this ransom note:
Your files, images, musics, documents are Encrypted!
Your files is encrypted by PUBG Ransomware!
but don't worry!
It is not hard to unlock it.
I don't want money!
Just play PUBG 1Hours!
Or Restore is [ s2acxx56a2sae5fjh5k2gb5s2e ]
Apparently, to get your files back, you have two options, both not requiring any form of payment.
The first method - you can simply play PUBG for an hour.
To do that, the ransomware checks and monitors for a running application called TSLGAME.exe (the name of PUBG's launcher). And get this, it doesn't even have to be the real PUBG launcher so you don't even have to buy the game. You can simply rename any utility to TSLGAME.exe and the ransomware won't know the difference.
And stranger still, although the ransom note states that it needs an hour of playing time, you only have to run the executable for 3 seconds flat and it will unlock your files. That's easy enough (if you know what you're doing.)
However, the second method is simpler - as indicated by the ransom note, just enter the code "s2acxx56a2sae5fjh5k2gb5s2e" on the malicious program then click Restore to unlock all your files.
Wow, this ransomware is more of an annoyance than an actual threat, right? It's like one big trolling joke. Or is it?
PUBG Ransomware may appear harmless but at closer inspection, it's a badly coded program that can still do irreparable harm to your computer. For instance, it can corrupt your files or plant other stealthy latent malware that's just waiting to be activated.
It can also be a test bed or a practice run for other more advanced ransomware that its author is planning on distributing in the future. Overall, even prank ransomware, such as PUBG Ransomware, are big security threats that you need to watch out for.
How to protect yourself
That said, PUBG Ransomware may sound like a big joke but you still have to remain vigilant against such threats. Here's how you can protect yourself so you don't become the not-so-funny punchline:
Back up your data regularly - this is very important. It's the best way to recover your critical data if you are infected. Note: For all your cloud backup needs, we recommend using our sponsor IDrive. Click here to save 50% on 2TB of IDrive cloud storage!
Next, never open risky links in emails - if you get an email or notification that you find suspicious, don't click on its links. Also, download only trusted software - make sure the software you download comes from trusted sites and never run an executable or application from an untrusted source.
And to proactively protect your computer, always have strong security software running in the background. This will help prevent the installation of ransomware on your gadget. Note: Windows already has built-in security software called Windows Defender. Click here for 5 more ways to keep your PC secure.
In related news, if the kids in your family play this game, you must know this
PUBG is not the only popular game that's being targeted nowadays. It looks like Fortnite's own Battle Royale is also being used by pedophiles to target young children! Click here to read more about this disturbing news.