Hackers have hauled in millions over the years, mostly in bitcoins, with a blackmail scheme called ransomware, experts say.
You visit a hacked website or download an evil file, and it encrypts files on your computer and won't give them back until you pay money to designated account.
Those who visit porn sites have been victims of this type of thing for years. Even police stations have been forced to pay up.
Now two security researchers have found a new type of ransomware that slips in through Flash files or through an old hole in Internet Explorer and specifically targets video games, writes security researcher Vadim Kotov from Bromium Labs.
Want your game back? Want all your high scores and other game-related data back? Pay up.
"We havenít seen gamers being targeted by ransomware until now," writes in a blog post about the ransomware.
And if you're not a gamer? It can lock down other files on the computer as well, including your iTunes, your Office documents, and your finance software.
The new form of malware, called TeslaCrypt, was discovered by Fabian Wosar of Emsisoft in late February, according to a post on Bleeping Computer.
It holds for ransom about 40 video games including popular single-player games like these:Call of Duty Star Craft 2 Diablo Fallout 3 Minecraft Half-Life 2 Dragon Age: Origins The Elder Scrolls and specifically Skyrim related files Star Wars: The Knights Of The Old Republic WarCraft 3 F.E.A.R Saint Rows 2 Assassinís Creed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Resident Evil 4
It also targets a bunch of popular online games, like World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and some games from Valve, which folks commenting on the Bleeping Computer say is odd, since not much gamer data from streaming games is actually stored on your PC.
Unfortunately, since it can nab other files, once you're attacked your hosed. "At this time there is no known method of decrypting your files for free," warns Bleeping Computer.
The best way to avoid this is prevention.Make sure your web browser and related plug-ins like Flash are the latest, most updated ones your computer can use. Back up your files. Beware of auto-backups to Dropbox or other cloud services, Kotov warns. "If you have folders synchronized with an online storage Ė malware will get to them too," he says.
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