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Malware Called “Ransomware” Is Infecting Android Phones

August 27, 2014 - Written By Kristijan Lucic

What would you do if your were to received a message saying you are guilty of child abuse, watching child porn or something similar and saying you are a criminal? Well, I honestly don’t know what would I do, but I doubt FBI would send a message for something like that. Apparently hundreds of thousands of people have received similar messages from Eastern European hackers who are claiming to be the FBI or cybersecurity firms. Those hackers are hijacking Android devices with a malware called “ransomware”. It is called ransomware because the aforementioned hackers are asking you to pay them a few hundred dollars in order for you to regain access to your device. This malware isn’t anything new though, something similar was used five years ago when they started doing the same thing to PC users. Considering the growth of mobile industry it is no wonder they switched their focus to mobile devices and such gadgets. In just 30 days these hackers managed to hit (or at least tried to hit) 900,000 people with a form of ransomware called “ScarePackage”, according to a well-known mobile security firm Lookout.

“This is, by far, the biggest U.S. targeted threat of ransomware we’ve seen. In the past month, a single piece of malware has affected as many devices in the U.S., as a quarter of all families of malware in 2013.” said Jeremy Linden who is a senior security product manager at Lookout. There are other versions of ransomware out there, called “ColdBrother” and “Sypeng”. These versions are even more dangerous than “ScarePackage” considering they not only lock you out of your device but can also take pictures from your device’s camera and answer / drop calls along with search banking applications on the device. People get infected by a method called “drive-by download”, they simply visit a website (usually a pornography site) and without intention download ransomware on their device. There are also cases where ransomware is pretending to be some well-known application and people download it on purpose. The New York Times reports that ransomware is rather difficult to remove. Lookout’s chief technology officer, Kevin Mahaffey, is asking Android users not to freak out. He also added that people should be careful which links they visit and download applications from.

It seems like security is becoming a frequent topic these days. Malware like ransomware is rather serious and it is kind of scary what people can do with your devices once they manage to get control. So be careful which sites you visit and from where you download your apps. Are you worried about such malware? Did you experience anything similar?

Ransomware malware