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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

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

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?