An interesting piece of ransomware has been spotted. Unlike its predecessors, it doesn’t leverage the name of a law enforcement agency to scare its victims, but the name of the infamous hacktivist movement Anonymous.
Ransomware is a piece of malware that locks up computers and asks victims to pay a certain amount of money that allegedly represents a fine for downloading illegal content.
It usually relies on the reputation of the FBI, Metropolitan Police or other law enforcement agencies from around the world to appear more convincing. However, it appears that some cybercriminals have started using Anonymous’ reputation to scare users into paying up.
The representatives of Swiss security blog Abuse.ch
have managed to obtain a screenshot
of the “lock screen.”
“Your computer has been hacked by the Anonymous Hackers Group and locked for the moment. All files have been encrypted. You need to pay a ransom of £100 within 24 hours to restore the computer back to normal,” reads the message presented to victims.
“If the ransom is not paid on time all the contents of your computer will be deleted and all your personal information such as your name, address, D.O.B., etc. will be published online, after this has been done the process, ram and motherboard will be fried. Any attempts to remove this virus will result in the consequences mentioned.”
Then, users are instructed to pay the money via Ukash in order to have their computers unlocked.
Anonymous is a hacktivist movement that militates for freedom of speech, freedom of information and other noble causes. However, cybercriminals are most likely relying on the fact that many users might not know exactly what Anonymous is about and confuse it with a criminal collective.
This may be especially true since popular culture has often associated hackers with criminals, regardless of the “color of their hat” or their objectives.