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New Annoying Ransomware Forces Victims to Take Online Surveys

You gotta be kidding.

Image: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Tens of thousands of people all over the world have been hit by malware that locks their files and demands a payment to unlock them, creating a cottage—illegal—industry dedicated to spreading this type of threat.

Ransomware, as it's called, is so lucrative that countless different strains have popped up in the last couple of years. Some are really effective ones, and some are just plain weird. Now, someone is making particularly annoying new type of ransomware. Instead of asking infected users for money, it forces them to fill out tedious online surveys.

Read more: Hackers Make the First-Ever Ransomware for Smart Thermostats

This new ransomware strain is apparently still in development, and hasn't infected anyone yet, according to the blog Bleeping Computer, which first wrote about the ransomware on Thursday, after it was discovered by GData security researcher Karsten Hahn.

The screen that pops up after your computer gets infected. (Image: Karsten Hahn)

Once the victims fills out the survey, which is pulled from the FileIce online survey platform, the ransomware downloads a text file that simply says: "Thank you for supporting me." It's unclear how the author of the malware intends to make money, but it's possible that he could get paid if victims fill out surveys.

Bleeping Computer's Lawrence Abrams theorizes that eventually, when and if the ransomware ever gets released, the text file will "contain a code that will be used to unlock and remove the lock screen."

Hahn, the researcher who uncovered it, said that rather than a real ransomware, this is more of a "survey locker," given that it doesn't appear to actually lock or encrypt your files.

"You just have to get rid of the malware and your system is fine," Hahn told Motherboard. "[And] there are always ways around the screen locking."

Any any case, Abrams noted that many functions of the ransomware are still to be developed, and, perhaps, this ransomware might never see the light of day. All in all, it seems like relatively innocuous, if really annoying, strain of ransomware. But it also highlights how easy it's become for anyone to enter the trendy ransomware market.

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