New ransomware doesn’t want money – just a high score

Ransomware normally infects your PC, encrypts your files and then demands that you pay a ransom fee, but a new strain of this malware takes an entirely different tack by forcing you to achieve a high score on a game.

‘Rensenware’, as the malware has been dubbed, locks away your files and forces you to play Touhou Seirensen (Undefined Fantastic Object), an anime-themed bullet-hell scrolling shooter, until you score more than 200 million points on the ‘lunatic’ level.

As you might have guessed, that’s a hugely cranked-up difficulty level and a massive score to attain – a more-than-tricky task. By the sounds of it, the average person has probably got more chance of scraping together an expensive ransom…

Wake-up call

In actual fact, this strain of ransomware was knocked up as a joke by a Korean student because he was ‘bored’, as Kotaku reports. He released the gag malware on Github, fell asleep, and by the time he’d woken up, the creator realized that the ransomware had spread.

Indeed, he infected his own PC, too. He said: “I realized that it [had] become a huge accident and [was] confused.”

Feeling pretty bad about the whole thing, he developed a piece of code which neutralizes the ransomware and uploaded that to Github, enabling anyone unfortunate enough to be hit by this to cure their PC without having to tear their hair out in an effort to score several hundred million on a nightmare difficulty setting.

As mentioned, normally ransomware demands payment to unlock your encrypted data, but even if you do pay up online via Bitcoin, there’s no guarantee that the criminals behind the malware will actually send you a genuine key to free your files.

As ever, be very careful about what software or games you download and install on your PC, and where you get these apps from.

If you are unfortunate enough to get hit by any strain of this type of malware, we’ve got a guide on how to remove ransomware right here.

Image Credit: STGReplays

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).