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Virus Targets Illegal Porn Downloaders, Then Blackmails Them

In a horrifyingly clever new take on ransomware, a new virus in Japan called Kenzero has begun to attach itself to illegally downloaded copies of animated porn based games. It then blackmails the users to keep their actions private.

The BBC is reporting that users on the Japanese file-sharing service Winni (which claims over 200 million users) have been targeted by the new virus when they download games in the hentai genre- a type of porn based animation that tends to veer towards the more extreme- and socially unacceptable- fetishes. The words hentai translates as ”sexual perversion”.

Masquerading as the installation screen for the downloaded program, users are prompted to enter their personal information for activation purposes. Once the virus has the user’s details, it takes screengrabs of the internet history, then publishes that information on a public website. The user then receives a pop up or an email that states that they need to immediately pay 1500 yen ($16) to “settle your violation of copyright law”. Once the payment is made, the website takes down the information.

The website is owned by a shell company, but the fictitious owner, Shoen Overns, is a name that has also been associated with other trojan viruses.

So far, 5500 people have acknowledged that they were targeted by the malware, but there is no way to know how many have given in to the demands, especially given the content that is being targeted.

This isn’t the first example of “ransomware”. Other more common versions of the malware have infected computers in order to encrypt personal documents before demanding payment for the decryption key.

The first recorded case of Ransomware dates back to 1989’s PC Cyborg Trojan, aka the AIDS trojan. The program renamed and moved key files, all but rendering the hard drive useless. To receive the key, users were told to mail $189 to a PO Box in Panama. Dr. Joseph Popp was arrested for the scam, but he claimed all the money was being used for AIDS research. He was eventually declared mentally unfit for trial and was never convicted.

European victims have also faced a virus similar to Kenzero. Once downloaded, the virus scans the user’s hard drives for any illegal content. A pop-up then appears from the self-styled ICPP copyright foundation (whether there is any illegal content to be found or not) and the user is then warned that they risk serious jail time and costly court expenses for having downloaded illegal content. It then offers the users a “pretrial settlement” fine of $400.

And while $400 might already seem like a steep cost, the true price is much higher. Once they receive the credit card information along with any other personal details they may have taken or received from the user, the group responsible then sells the credit card numbers and information, which can lead to much more serious cases of identity theft.

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