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A bizarre new ransomware locks your computer files and only gives them back if you play a round of the game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (better known as PUBG). First discovered by MalwareHunterTeam and reported by BleepingComputer, the “PUBG ransomware” encrypts desktop files and folders with a PUBG extension.
While this would ordinarily seem like a joke from a hacker who’s really into gaming, the malware really does release its grasp once affected users play PUBG for a few seconds, or about the time it takes to get immediately sniped. As BleepingComputer points out, this isn’t the only malware that wants you to pick up the sticks. A similar (though undistributed) attack created in 2017 returned files after victims scored 0.2 billion in TH12: Undefined Fantastic Object.
In a ransomware attack, a computer is infected with malware that prevents a user from accessing their files by encrypting them. Instead of searching through or deleting these files, a ransomware attack uses them as leverage. Typically, an attacker demands a sum of money before they hand over a decryption key that unlocks the files.
In this case, the ransomware only looks to see if a user is running an executable called “TslGame.” While the ransomware instructions demand users play an hour of the popular shooter, the computer will begin decrypting files around three seconds into the game. It’s unclear how many people have been affected by the virus, but there’s a good chance it’s only a joke.
“Your files is encrypted [sic] by PUBG Ransomeware! But don’t worry! It is not that hard to unlock it. I don’t want money! Just play PUBG 1Hours [sic]!” the ransomware note reads.
If you’re dedicated to Fortnite and can’t get yourself to make the switch, don’t worry. There’s another way to decrypt the files on your computer. The hacker provided a restore code (s2acxx56a2sae5fjh5k2gb5s2e) victims can submit. Although, with this method, you can’t tell your friends how you overcame a ransomware attack by playing video games.
Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.