A new ransomware variant has been discovered using an innovative system to increase infections: the software turns victims into attackers by offering a pyramid scheme-style discount.
Any user who finds themselves infected with the Popcorn Time malware (named after, but unrelated to, the bittorrent client) is offered the ability to unlock their files for a cash payment, usually one bitcoin ($772.67/£613.20).
But they also have a second option, described by the developers as “the nasty way”: passing on a link to the malware. “If two or more people install this file and pay, we will decrypt your files for free”.
The affiliate marketing scheme was discovered by security researchers MalwareHunterTeam. For now, it’s only in development, but if the software gets a full release, its innovative distribution method could lead to it rapidly becoming one of the more widespread variants of this type of malware.