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New Ransomware Asks for Acts of Kindness to Get your Files Back!

I daresay that many of you reading this are familiar with the general concept and application of ransomware. – For those of you who aren’t, however, the overall premise is pretty simple. Ransomware is a virus that installs itself on your system (usually due to the user ill-advisably clicking and/or downloading something suspicious). It doesn’t render the PC inoperable, but rather encrypts all of your data and personal files. The key aspect of the ‘ransom’ is that you have to pay to get your data back (usually in the form of Bitcoin). And even if you do choose to pay, I should point out that there’s no guarantee you’ll actually get your decryption code!

Overall, it’s an odious piece of software and one that probably represents the current biggest online security threats to both companies and individuals.

Following the publication of research by CloudSEK, however, it appears that ransomware may be taking an interesting new twist. – A new variant has been identified that, rather than asking for money, is instead asking the user to conduct three acts of kindness!

GoodWill Ransomware – Be Kind and Get Your Data Back!

According to the report, this new ‘Goodwill’ ransomware, as per the usual variant, still encrypts the data on your PC. Rather than giving you a terse black screen with an alarming message requesting payment to a cryptocurrency wallet, however, it asks for something very different indeed. Namely, that you perform (with video evidence) three acts of kindness.

Although it’s understood that these can vary, the generic premise of this includes the following:

  • Act 1 – Provide food/clothes to needy people on the streets (presumably the homeless)
  • Act 2 – Take 5 hungry kids in your neighbourhood out for something to eat (fast food is suggested)
  • Act 3 – Visit your nearest hospital, observe the people, and provide those in medical need with money

Based on the overall nature of the requests, it does appear that this is being angled more towards American users. With that being said though, while (probably) well-intentioned, I think this could potentially cause more problems than it solves. I mean, I can thankfully say that completing acts 2 and 3 in the UK would be a somewhat difficult task – More so though, I can see a potentially awkward situation developing with parents and/or the police if you were to attempt to buy random kids McDonald’s.

‘I was trying to unlock my PC data’ probably won’t be an initially compelling argument against, you know, accusations of you attempting to groom them.

What Do We Think?

On completion of the tasks, with submission of video evidence to prove it, you are (as a reward) not just given your decryption code to get your files back, but you’re also provided with a nice banner you can apply to your social media profile (see above).

Overall though, while potentially a nice idea, this has all the hallmarks of either being a colossal troll looking to get you in more trouble than you’re already in or merely just a good ethical concept not thought out all the way. – Put simply, if you encounter this, I think I’d be more tempted to just offer them money than complete the requested tasks. And no, that’s not because I don’t like helping those in need. I’d just rather not have to stand in front of a judge explaining why I was harassing people with blankets, offering people money for a kidney, and why I was filming minors as I attempted to give them a happy meal.

If you do, however, want to learn more, you can check out the full report via the link here!

What do you think though? – Let us know in the comments!

Mike Sanders

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