Open Source Malware Lets Anyone Hold Computer Users to Ransom

By Gary Cutlack on at

A free collection of files has been discovered that aids in the creation of ransomware; the process of encrypting the contents of someone's computer until they pay to have it unlocked. Set your price and away you go.

The discovery comes via McAfee Labs, which says it found the Tox bundle floating around the internet's bad places in mid May. Once registered, the free app operates through anonymised network TOR and uses untraceable virtual money Bitcoin to manage payments, creating what appears to be a fully functional, one-click solution to making masses of money through becoming an illegal ransomware distributor.

There's an innovative modern solution to making money for its developer, too -- the maker of the tool takes 20 per cent of the paid ransom, should it get on the computer of someone stupid/unfortunate enough to infect themselves and actually pay up.

McAfee says the code is rough and lacking in "complexity and efficiency," plus there are some vaguely identifiable tracers of the creator inside in the form of links to resources within his computer's docs folder, but still. They say it works as advertised and therefore could see the start of a new wave of ransomware flood the internet. So, er, put your important things on Dropbox. [McAfee Labs via The Register]