Linkup is the latest ransomware asking victims for a payment to undo damage to their computers.
Security researchers have identified a new type of “ransomware” which blocks internet access and turns users’ computer into a bitcoin miner pending payment of a ransom.
The malware, named by researchers at Emsisoft as “Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Linkup”, differs from previous examples of ransomware. “It does not directly lock your computer or encrypt files,” the researchers explain. “Instead, Linkup blocks internet access by modifying your DNS and can also turn your computer into a bitcoin mining robot.”
When an infected computer loads up any page, they are taken to a fake website which accuses them of having viewed “child pornography” and demands payment of a €0.01 fine. The “payment” is taken by the user inputting a credit card number, making it extremely unlikely that the malware developers will limit themselves to just one cent; Emsisoft describes it as “most likely a blatant lie”.
Once installed, the malware also attempts to download bitcoin-mining software. When installed, the software uses the computer’s processor to perform the energy-intensive tasks used to mine for bitcoin, which runs the risk of damaging the machine and will certainly run up a large electricity bill.