Breaking Bad-themed crypto-ransomware hits Australian computers

Malware attempts to encrypt all drives on a network

Cyber crooks use Breaking Bad-themed crypto ransomware to target Australians.

Cyber crooks use Breaking Bad-themed crypto ransomware to target Australians.

Australians have been targeted with a Breaking Bad-themed crypto ransomware.

The malware, detected by security firm Symantec, has adopted the mantle of “Los Pollos Hermanos”, a fictional fast food chain from the popular AMC television series and attempts to lock down any drive on the computer’s network.

According to Symantec, the malware encrypts images, videos, documents, and more on the compromised computer and demands up to $1000 to decrypt these files.

The screen shot that appears once a computer is infected
The screen shot that appears once a computer is infected

Symantec senior principal systems engineer (security), Nick Savvides, said the attack arrives through a malicious zip archive, that uses the name of a major courier firm in its file name.

“In the last two weeks we have seen a number of attacks that have used courier firms. If you look at the top five courier companies in Australia that are delivering consumer packages, they are the ones being used.

“These are very convincing sites and emails that have been set up to trick users.

“These are all crypto malware. That’s the big thing right now, we saw a massive rise over the last twelve months and this year is only going to be bigger.

Savvides explained that the Los Pollos Hermanos- themed attack initially asks for $450. It gives the infected user an approximate 24 hour deadline to pay this amount before the demand is increased to $1000.

“That’s around twice the size of the average ransomware demand. Typically we see demands for between $300 - 500, these guys are asking for a lot more.”

A sample of the demands for payment made in Bitcoin
A sample of the demands for payment made in Bitcoin

Symantec said part of the email address used in the extortion demand is based on a quote by the show’s protagonist, Walter White, who declared “I am the one who knocks.”

This zip archive contains a malicious file called ‘PENALTY.VBS’ (VBS.Downloader.Trojan). When executed, it downloads the crypto-ransomware onto the victim’s computer.

The threat also downloads and opens a legitimate pdf file to trick users into thinking that the initial zip archive was not a malicious file.

The malware encrypts files using a random Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) key. This key is then encrypted with an RSA public key so that victims can only decrypt their files by obtaining the private key from the attackers.

The ransom demand links to a legitimate video tutorial on how to obtain Bitcoins. Symantec said attackers did this to assist victims with paying the ransom.

Savvides said the most concerning thing about this particular attack was that the malware seeks to encrypt specific files and drives on a network.

“It is targeting user-generated files like Office documents, pictures, music, program installers, Photoshop, Illustrator and video files.”

He also said that the malware seeks to lockdown any drive that is attached to a network, such as network attached storage (NAS) or external hard drives.

“Without appropriate Cloud or non-network attached backups, people are extremely vulnerable and may have no choice to pay if infected.”

Savvides concluded that prevention was far superior to cure in the case of any malware. Appropriate backups and up to date security software were imperative to combat these crypto-ransomware attacks.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags malwarecrypto ransomwareSymantec Nick Savvidesbreaking badlos pollos hermanos

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Chris Player
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Cate Bacon

Aruba Instant On AP11D

The strength of the Aruba Instant On AP11D is that the design and feature set support the modern, flexible, and mobile way of working.

Dr Prabigya Shiwakoti

Aruba Instant On AP11D

Aruba backs the AP11D up with a two-year warranty and 24/7 phone support.

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?