Video games are fun except when losing means you lose access to your hard drive. That’s exactly what a new kind of ransomware, aptly named RensenWare, does.
As a refresher, ransomware is a kind of malware that holds your files hostage when it gets your computer infected. This malicious software typically forces you to pay a ransom if you wish to regain access to your encrypted data. It’s a really serious problem.
Curiously, a new strain is out there and it requires you to pay a different kind of ransom.
RensenWare isn’t like your usual ransomware. While most of its kind requires victims to pay cash to recover their files, this new strain demands a unique ransom: be a high scorer in an anime-style arcade game.
Named after the anime game Touhou Seirensen (Undefined Fantastic Object), RensenWare will require you to score over 200 million points on the game’s “lunatic” level. As the name suggests, it’s the game’s highest difficulty level.
Fail to deliver what RensenWare requires you to do and you will no longer be able to access all your computers files.
A Not-So-Fun Game
Originally developed by a Korea-based undergraduate student who goes by the name Tvple Eraser, RensenWare was supposed to be a joke. A pun on the name of a Japanese shooting game that was released in 2009, it shows infected users an anime sailor girl pop-up on a dashboard. It doesn’t look scary too scary at first.
Upon closer inspection, however, it reads:
“Minamitsu ‘The Captain’ Murasa encrypted your precious data like documents, musics, pictures, and some kind project files.”
“How can I recover my files? That’s easy. You just play TH12 ~ Undefined Fantastic Object and score over 0.2 billion in LUNATIC level. This application will detect TH12 process[es] and score automatically.”
Doesn’t seem too fun, does it?
Shutting Down Isn’t an Option
As scary as these may sound, the good news is that the ransomware’s creator didn’t try to distribute the malware at all. In fact, he apologized for such a dangerous joke and has released a tool to bypass RensenWare’s encrypted file lock for anyone who may have downloaded the original malware by accident.
Tvple Eraser, the RensenWare creator, simply released this malware into GitHub. He then recalls falling asleep right after and then waking up realizing the malware had begun wreaking havoc.
He’s not sure how many folks have been infected by accident, so he swiftly designed a downloadable piece of software to neutralize his own ransomware.
When asked whether he’s capable of scoring 0.2 billion in the game’s most punishing level, Tvple Eraser said: “Uh, oh… nope.”
The Threat Could be Out There
While the publicly available encryption key and RensenWare’s cooperative creator may give victims a shed of hope, it’s not improbable that someone could have copied the malware for their own devious ends.
Put simply: it isn’t a far possibility that an actual, malicious copy that blocks the removal tool could be in the works as we speak.
Before the unthinkable happens, you’d be wise to brush up on your TH12 ~ Undefined Fantastic Object skills on your downtime—just in case. Or you could be getting yourself a close look at this odd ransomware.
Better Be Safe than Sorry
Ransomware is evidently on the rise so it’s best that you do a couple of things to protect your data and yourself from such digital threats. For starters, know how to protect emails from malware infection. Invest in a reliable cyber security software, too.
Beyond these tips, you’ll have to think about regularly backing up your data. It may be quite a chore to do so, but you’ll one day be thankful you went through all that hassle to protect your files. Besides, there are a whole lot of handy portable drives out there that can make your file transfer processes so much faster than what you expected.