A random act of kindness

Hacktivism - anonymous masked hacker at a computer

Hacktivism: the use of hacking to promote social causes.

Between Eskom, inflation and the price of fuel, we’re all taking strain. After a family funeral this morning, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to write about. I wanted something upbeat or funny, but nothing came to mind. If you have something uplifting to share, please do. We all need some good news these days.

I even looked at the good news sites – yes, they actually exist – but none of the articles struck a chord. Then I remembered a story ransomware I wanted to share a while ago. It’s not funny or upbeat, but it’s interesting.

If you follow cybersecurity news diligently, then I apologise: this will not be news for you.

The Robin Hood hackers

Earlier this year, cybersecurity experts disclosed the existence of a new ransomware strain. It is called “Goodwill ransomware”.

Like other ransomware, Goodwill encrypts the data on the infected machine. But instead of demanding money, Goodwill demands that its victim do a series of charitable deeds. Each deed must be proved by posting photos or videos to social media.

For the first challenge, you must provide blankets and clothes to homeless people in your area.

For the second challenge, you must find 5 poor children in your area and take them out for a meal.

For the third challenge, you must offer financial help to people who are struggling to pay for medical treatment.

The final act requires that you post on social media how the ransomware has transformed you into a “kind human being”.

Once you have completed these tasks, you will allegedly get the encryption key to unencrypt your data.

The digital vigilante

While the Goodwill ransomware attack is unusual, hacktivism is not new. Groups like Anonymous use digital attacks for what they perceive to be the greater good.

These attacks raise interesting moral and ethical questions. The greater good is, unfortunately, a matter of perspective. And even well-meaning hacks can cause harm to innocent people. Vigilantism is risky business.

It’s still a nice thought

Goodwill doesn’t seem to be much of a threat, because I haven’t read about any specific victims. I can’t condone any form of digital attack. But I can’t help feeling charitable towards the hackers behind Goodwill.

Did you also have a moment of “warm and fuzzy” there? If so, then here’s a challenge. Perform a random act of kindness every day for the next week. It doesn’t have to cost much. There is so much need all around us. And research shows that such acts increase the happiness level of the doer of the act. So it’s a win-win all the way.

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