The love note that Linux.Encoder.1 leaves website admins after it does its dirty work. (credit: Doctor Web)

The antivirus software company Doctor Web has issued an alert about a new form of crypto-ransomware that targets users of Linux-based operating systems. Designated as “Linux.Encoder.1” by the company, the malware largely targets Web servers, encrypting their contents and demanding a ransom of one Bitcoin (currently about $500).

Many of the systems that have been affected by the malware were infected when attackers exploited a vulnerability in the Magento CMS. A critical vulnerability patch for Magneto, which is used to power a number of e-commerce sites, was published on October 31. Doctor Web researchers currently place the number of victims in the “at least tens” range, but attacks on other vulnerable content management systems could increase the number of victims dramatically.

In order to run, the malware has to be executed with administrator-level privileges. Using 128-bit AES crypto, the malware encrypts the contents of all users’ home directories and any files associated with websites running on the systems. It then goes through the whole directory structure of mounted volumes, encrypting a variety of file types. In each directory it encrypts, it drops a text file called README_FOR_DECRYPT.txt. This demands payment and provides a link to a Tor “hidden service” site via a Tor gateway.

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New encryption ransomware targets Linux systems