Pacman ransomware

Pacman ransomware will chomp your data if you don’t pay up

A new ransomware campaign is upping the ante. Pacman can compromise a PC with a single click and encrypt the data. The only way to decrypt your data and get it back is to pay the ransom–and Pacman only gives you 24 hours to pay up…in Bitcoin.

I wrote a blog post about this dangerous new ransomware campaign:

All malware is bad, but ransomware is particularly insidious—ask any ransomware victim. That’s why a new attack scheme called “Pacman” has raised alarms, because it’s even nastier than usual. Think of the classic Pac-Man game’s voracious yellow ball, chomping up all of your files. It takes only one click to infect a vulnerable PC, and the attack gives victims only 24 hours to pay the ransom in Bitcoins or risk losing all of the compromised data.

The current attack is particularly effective because it’s so convincing. Pacman’s first victims have been Danish chiropractors, who received emails with a subject line of “Possible new patient.” Unlike the laughably amateurish writing of some phishing emails, this one was written in perfect Danish and included Dropbox links to MRI and CT scans of the problem for the doctor to review—except the links launched ransomware instead.

When a victim clicks the link, the pacman.exe file is extracted and begins to encrypt data on the infected system. The files are marked with a new file extension of “.ENCRYPTED,” and the Windows desktop is replaced with the ransom demand. Pacman even hedges itself by installing a keystroke logging component and a “kill” process that can shut down Windows operating system functions such as taskmgr, cmd, regedit, making it very difficult to analyze or remove the malware.

The attack is built in Microsoft’s .NET programming framework, so it requires that the target machine have the .NET framework installed as well. Most Windows machines have .NET framework by default.

Pacman’s just getting warmed up

Pacman’s initial victim pool is small, but we can assume it will spread. KnowBe4 CEO Stu Sjouwerman points out that all of the tens of millions of records that have been compromised in data breaches make it significantly easier for attackers to compose more effective spear phishing attacks.

Read the full story on PCWorld: Ransomware alert: ‘Pacman’ scheme uses Dropbox link to gobble victims.

2 thoughts on “Pacman ransomware will chomp your data if you don’t pay up”

  1. Robert Cassidy

    you did it again! every time i try to “read more” it sends me to a page where a pop-up immediately blocks the content. VERY ANNOYING. And now on your site too. I just “unsubscribed” your newsletter.

  2. OK.

    The posts that ask you to “Read More” direct to one of four or five different sites I write for–all of which have different ad policies, none of which are under my control. However, I am also not aware of any of them having pop-up ads, and I don’t see any pop-up ads when I visit PCWorld, CSOOnline,, Forbes, or TechRepublic. Also, other than the newsletter invitation–which shouldn’t pop up if you’re already subscribed to the newsletter–we don’t have any ads or pop-ups.

    So, if you are seeing something like that I suggest running a malware scan on your PC to find out where they’re coming from.

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