The bizarre piece of ransomware that forces you to play a game

Emma Woollacott
The Touhou game victims are required to play
The Touhou game victims are required to play

A new piece of so-called ransomware doing the rounds makes a rather bizarre demand of its victims.

Usually, when users are infected, scammers lock down their computer and demand payment for releasing files, generally in the form of untraceable Bitcoins.

However, Rensenware makes no financial demands at all.

Instead, it forces victims to play a computer game called Touhou Seirensen (Undefined Fantastic Object) - and reach a score of 200 million points on the game's Lunatic difficulty setting. It's no easy feat.

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If this has you scratching your head as to what the ransomware creator is expecting to get out of it, the answer is nothing at all.

Rensenware's anonymous Korean creator says he created it as a joke; but made the mistake of posting the source code on a public forum called GitHub.

Since realising the effects of his actions, he's created a tool that can fool infected PCs into thinking that the user has actually played the game and reached the required score.

"First of all, I'd like to apologize everyone for making shocked, or annoyed. Ransomeware is defenitely kind of highly-fatal malware, but I made 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," he writes.

"A number of people blamed me. It's natural. because I made accident definitely wrong. So I pulled down the source code of the rensenWare from the Github, and made this tool. I hope this tool can help the ones who are already affected by rensenWare. Once again, I apology to everyone."

The recovery tool is here.

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Most ransomware infections, of course, demand money rather than game-playing. The amount is often fairly low, as the scammers want to make paying up the quickest and cheapest fix.

However, paying the ransom doesn't always result in the computer being unlocked - making it even more important to make sure you don't get infected in the first place.

Ransomware tends to arrive in the same way as other malware: generally through email attachments or links to apparently genuine websites.

"By clicking links or opening suspicious attachments, you could be inviting ransomware, or other malware, onto your computer. Just delete spam immediately without opening it," advises computer security firm Norton.

"Web sites that illegally promise free software, music, and movies are often bait to lure in unsuspecting victims. This plays into the theme of the ransomware pretending to originate from law enforcement. If you have teens in your home, who often like to visit such dubious sites, make them aware of this malware danger."

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It's a good idea to keep your operating system updated, as scammers can often find vulnerabilities; and a good antivirus product is a must.

But to make doubly sure that you won't lose all your files, make sure you back everything up regularly.