Strange ransomware spotted in S. Korea demands no Bitcoin

By Park Sae-jin Posted : November 14, 2017, 11:25 Updated : November 14, 2017, 11:25

This file picture shows a screenshot captured from a ransomware-infected computer. [Yonhap Photo]

A South Korean online security company warned of a strange opensource ransomware which encrypts computer files like other malicious codes but makes no demand for digital coins. Instead, users are under pressure to visit a video streaming website.

Ransomware, a malicious code which takes control of infected computers, has been a major threat to PCs worldwide. Because hackers normally demand Bitcoins or other digital coins, affected people had to pay up or format computers deleting every file.

ESTsecurity said in a statement on Wednesday that it has spotted a variant of "Hidden Tear", an open source ransomware, designed for educational use. The new ransomware is probably designed by a South Korean hacker because its ransom note is written in English and Korean and does not demand Bitcoin in return for unlocking computers.

"With no demand for money, the creator urges users to visit a video streaming website," which streams popular game videos and other non-explicit contents, ESTsecurity said, adding the malicious code probably has no criminal intent.

According to Hamburg-based market research company Statista, about 638 million cases of ransomware infection have been reported worldwide. "WannaCry", a notorious ransomware, infected millions of computers worldwide in May. In some cases, the users of affected computers have been asked to complete a video game with an extreme level of difficulty or donate a small sum of money to charity organizations.

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