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New Ransomware Asks for Random Acts of Kindness

Ransomware is thought to be malicious software that blocks access to your computer system. It is an evolved form of malware that encrypts files on the affected device, rendering the files unusable.

Once the download is complete, it demands a specific ransom in exchange for decrypting the files. This illegal industry creates over $10 billion in transactions each year, with dozens of new reports happening each month. [[1]]

In July 2020, CWT Global, a US travel services company, paid $4.5 million in Bitcoin to restore 2 TB of data across 30,000 computers.

There’s a new ransomware out there, but it is changing the game and isn’t asking people for money. If your computer gets infected with it, what you’ll be asked for is to perform a random act of kindness.

“The Only Way to Help Yourself Is to Help Others”

The ransomware in question is called GoodWill. [[2]]

When computers get infected with this malware, a note appears that says the team behind the software isn’t looking for money or wealth. They want every person on the planet “to be kind,” encouraging those who want their files restored to do something good for someone else.

People are asked to complete three specific activities to regain access to their files.

Goodwill ransomware note

The first is to provide new clothing and blankets to the homeless while recording the event on Facebook. You’re given a photo frame to use for this purpose and asked to send an email with a valid link.

“Thousands of people die due to sleeping on the roadside in the cold because they do not have clothes to cover their body,” GoodWill says.

If the individual is “promoted” to the second task, they’re asked to take five “less fortunate children” to a Pizza Hut, Dominos, or KFC. The kids are supposed to be under the age of 13, and the video is supposed to show them ordering whatever they want.

“Make a beautiful video story on this whole event, and again, post it on your Facebook and Instagram Stories with a photo frame and caption provided by us.”

After completing the second task, GoodWill asks the individual to provide financial assistance to someone who requires urgent medical attention, but they cannot afford it.

Once you’ve completed the three tasks, the operators send the decryption kit, including a video tool that shows how to recover all the files.

Is It Possible for Good Things to Happen for the Wrong Reasons?

Aristotle Onassis once said, “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”

Although ransomware is hardly the worst thing that could happen to someone, it does cause a disruption. According to Tony Robbins, when people encounter disruptive circumstances, it can lead them toward growth opportunities. [[3]]

“The words we attach to our experience become our experience,” Robbins says. In other words, we always have the power to change our minds. Sometimes, we need a prompt to do it, like a ransomware note.

How to Start Doing Random Acts of Kindness

The good news is that everyone can start offering random acts of kindness without waiting for the GoodWill ransomware to infect a computer. Even one small change in your daily routine can lead to positive outcomes for friends, neighbors, and communities.

Here are a few ideas to consider implementing today without worrying about uploading the results to social media!

  1. Plant a tree in a local park (after receiving permission!).
  2. Allow someone with fewer items than you to go first in line.
  3. Instead of speeding up, slow down to let another driver merge into your lane.
  4. If you see trash on the street, pick it up so that it can be disposed of correctly.
  5. Leave a bigger tip than usual, regardless of the services received.
  6. Take treats to your local fire and police stations or EMS service provider.
  7. Write a letter to someone you haven’t seen in a while.
  8. Purchase a gift card for coffee that you can hand to a random person you meet today.
  9. Buy a warm meal for someone who looks hungry.
  10. Smile at someone when you pass them.
  11. Participate in a charity event to help raise money for a good cause.
  12. Offer an honest compliment without expecting anything in return.
  13. Purchase flowers, then hand them out to those living at a local nursing home.
  14. Pay for the meal of someone behind you without drawing attention to yourself.
  15. Donate unwanted or unused clothing and blankets to local emergency shelters.

You have the power to do something good for someone every day! Instead of waiting for ransomware to prompt us to promote acts of kindness, we can begin to live a lifestyle that incorporates these efforts.

References:

[[1]] https://www.itgovernance.co.uk/blog?s=list+of+data+breaches; [[2]] https://cloudsek.com/threatintelligence/goodwill-ransomware-forces-victims-to-donate-to-the-poor-and-provides-financial-assistance-to-patients-in-need/; [[3]] https://www.tonyrobbins.com/career-business/what-disruption-really-means/