Ransomware that uses strong cryptography to hold entire hard drives’ worth of data hostage keeps getting nastier, as criminals attempt to find new ways to extort more people into paying increasingly hefty ransoms to recover their files.

A case in point is Chimera, a relative newcomer to the crypto ransom racket that targets primarily businesses. In an attempt to turn up the pressure on infected victims, the malware threatens to publish their pictures and other personal data somewhere on the Internet unless a ransom of $638 in bitcoins is paid. There’s no evidence yet that the new cryptoware title has made good on the threat to post victims’ private data online, but it’s a likely bet the prospect is enough to convince some undecided victims to go ahead and pay the fee.

(credit: Botfrei Blog)

The threat, according to a blog post published Tuesday, comes only after the cryptoware has encrypted data stored not only on local hard drives but also those on network drives. To add drama to the attack, all file extensions are changed to .crypt. Chimera is also programmed to target specific employees within an infected company, presumably to make sure the ransom demand doesn’t get missed.

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Booming crypto ransomware industry employs new tricks to befuddle victims