Security researchers have discovered a new form of ransomware that forces victims to play a shoot em’ up video game in order to try and win back their stolen files.
Typically ransomware locks a user from accessing files on their computer until they pay some kind of ransom, normally in the form of bitcoin.
However, with this new malware, instead of paying a ransom, users have to try and set a new high score when playing the popular Japanese video game TH12.
Users have to try and score 200 million points on the ‘Lunatic’ difficulty level.
According to Ars Technica, users are first notified their device is infected when a pop up window appears on their screen.
However, rather than being part of some kind of criminal operation, the ransomware is in fact just a prank.
Once news of the ransomware started to circulate on social media, its creator, known only by his Twitter name Tvple Eraser, confirmed it was created for a joke and apologised for releasing it.
“I made it for joke, and just laughing with people who like Touhou Project Series.”
“So I distributed source code except compiled binary on the web. However, at the point of the distribution, the tragedy was beginning.”
Ransomware attacks are increasingly being used by cyber criminals as a way of making money out of unsuspecting computer users.
Last year, a report from Europol said that ransomware was now the top cyber crime threat.
The attacks are often disguised as something legitimate like a warning from police which claim the user is involved in some kind of illegal online activity such as downloading torrents or accessing other illegal content.
Fearing they may be exposed, users are often then duped into paying up.