What Would You Do to Get Your Data Back? How Hackers are Turning the Tables

The fear of a computer hacker gaining entry into your small business' network and stealing, destroying or making private data public is a fear many business owners have. In a survey conducted by the National Small Business Association in January 2015, the NSBA found that more than 90 percent of small business owners listed cybersecurity as one of their main business concerns.

A cyberattack can cost your small business tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Cyber extortion insurance covers the costs associated with cyberattacks initiated by viruses like malware and ransomware, protecting your company from financial ruin.

But now, cybercriminals are giving their victims a choice: they can either pay the ransom to get their stolen data back, or they can send an infected link to two other people to get their data back for free. Hackers are forcing their victims to decide between paying a ransom or acting as an undercover cybercriminal themselves. Ask yourself: What would you do?

Popcorn Time: Not About the Snack...It's About the Hack
Discovered by the MalwareHunterTeam research group, (a group of research analysts that warns the public when a new form of malware hits cyber space), Popcorn Time (not to be confused with the BitTorrent media pirating software of the same name) is a developing form of ransomware that infects your desktop by encrypting the hard drive and locking the user out.

This new form of cyber breach software is really not at all new. Ransomware is (and has been) a form of malware that infects a user's hard drive and locks them out of the system. The cybercriminal that infected the user's computer will try to extort them for money (usually in the form of bitcoins) with the threat if the ransom isn't paid, the user's data will be destroyed or shared with public. Depending on the sensitive nature of the data, this could tarnish the reputation of a well-respected business.

So then what is different about Popcorn Time? As mentioned earlier, the cyber victim is given two options to get their data back: they can pay the ransom, or they can agree to and send an infected link to two other people. If they do one or the other, they will get their data back, as per Popcorn Time's hacking group. According to Wired Magazine, it's the social aspect of the ransomware that makes it unusual.

In an interview with the magazine, cybersecurity and malware propagation researcher said, "the model for getting [Popcorn Time] off your system is sort of a pyramid scheme, multi-level marketing approach. It could certainly make for some interesting discussions amongst one's group of friends if you're trying to figure out who infected you with this malware."

When businesses, institutions and individuals are hit with malware, it's usually to do with someone accidentally opening or downloading a faulty link or app. This new form of malware contagion is spread purposefully from one organization to another, making all who are infected complicit in infecting another company.

By giving their targets a choice, the hackers who developed (and are still developing) Popcorn Time are turning the tables, making any link you get from a friend a potential cyber weapon.

If you run your company on the moral high ground, infecting even your competition is a choice you'll never make, and you never have to. Cyber extortion insurance will cover the costs of the ransom and network damages should a hacker break into your system and take you for a ride. Visit CyberPolicy for a great deal on cyber coverage.

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