PewDiePie fan releases ransomware to increase the YouTuber’s subscriber count

  • TECH
  • Friday, 29 Mar 2019

PewDiePie in a screenshot from a video posted on March 12, 2019. The YouTuber has more than 89 million subscribes on the video platform. — YouTube

PewDiePie is in the news, and yes, it's for the wrong reason again. This time after his "alleged" fan or fans reportedly released a ransomware with a note that reads “Subscribe to PewDiePie”.

According to The Independent, the ransomware named PewCrypt locks people from accessing their data and the creator claims that they would not get it back until PewDiePie’s YouTube account gets 100 million subscribers.It is unclear how the ransomware is distributed or how many victims it has claimed so far.

PewDiePie is currently in a stiff battle with Indian music channel T-Series to be the most followed channel on YouTube, with the latter in the lead at the moment.

“If T-Series beats PewDiePie the private key will be deleted and your files gone forever”,  the ransom note threatens.

The developer backtracked on their threat and released a decryption tool but not before posting the open-sourced ransomware on Twitter under the username JustMe – the account is disabled at the moment – potentially allowing others to modify and use PewCrypt freely.

Earlier this week, cybersecurity firm Emsisoft released its own decryption tool for PewCrypt, allowing affected victims to unlock their data. On its website, Emsisoft describes PewCrypt as a “Java-based ransomware that uses AES and RSA to encrypt files, while adding the extension .PewCrypt”.

“Using the author's decryption would require that people trust the person who initially infected them to not further infect them with more malware,” the article quotes Michael Gillespie, a researcher at Emsisoft, as saying.

This is not the first time PewDiePie's fans have pulled an extreme stunt to keep the Swedish vlogger as the most popular YouTuber, and ultimately win the silly battle against T-Series. 

Last year, vandals hacked into the Wall Street Journal website with a message of support for the vlogger, and others even manipulated thousands of printers forcing them to print messages asking people to subscribe to PewDiePie's channel.

Earlier this month, a World War II memorial in New York was tagged with "Subscribe to PewDiePie", the very statement uttered by the shooter who killed 50 people at the Christchurch, New Zealand mosques shooting. Both acts were condemned publicly by the vlogger.

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