A new strain of ransomware has been uncovered by security researchers that not only demands ransom from victims, but also offers the option of obtaining a free decryption key for their locked files. Dubbed Popcorn Time, the ransomware offers victims to either pay ransom or opt to infect two others using a referral link.
According to screenshots obtained by the MalwareHunterTeam, victims are given a week to either pay ransom or find two new victims. In the event that the two other victims pay up the ransom demanded, the original victim is given the decryption key for free.
According to a report by Bleeping Computer, the ransomware appears to be under development, which hints to the possibility that if a victim enters the wrong decryption key more than four times, the ransomware starts deleting files automatically.
A note by the authors of the ransomware reads, "We are sorry to say that your computer and your files have been encrypted, but wait, don't worry. There is a way you can restore your computer and all of your files... Send the link below to other people, if two or more people will install the file and pay, we will decrypt your files for free."
They claim to be a "group of computer science students from Syria". The ransomware developers also said that the funds will be used to help get "food, medicine and shelter" for those affected by the Syrian war. The cybercriminals behind Popcorn Time are reportedly demanding 1 bitcoin (£632; $800) as ransom.
It is still unclear as to how many victims have already been infected by malicious software. Security researchers believe that the ransomware is not related to the popular movie streaming application Popcorn Time.