A new potential threat to Android users is apparently starting to make the rounds on Android devices. It's a malware called ransomware(distributed by a malware group called Reveton Team and is apparently being sold to people who wish to use it), and has been found making its way to people through Windows based PCs prior to heading into the mobile space. For the most part Android is a pretty safe OS, but from time to time we can find a malicious app or two that try to take advantage of unsuspecting users. We'll be the first to say that unless you trust where a particular application came from, you're best bet is to not install any apps that look or sound suspicious. That should be a given rule of thumb for anything you can install a program on, but we know that many people forget to take this particular factor into account so we're restating it here.
If you're unfamiliar with this type of malware or have never heard of it, we won't judge as it's pretty new and could cause some Android anti-virus apps to lack the security needed to protect you from it until they're updated. What it does is encrypt your files(so it says), and alerts you that you have been viewing and or storing illegal materials on your device and will proceed to lock up access to your existing applications(encrypting), after which it will prompt you to make a payment so you can unlock those applications and continue to use them. The window message that pops up on devices is attempting to look as legitimate as possible, with government agency logos to fool users into thinking that this is a message from the federal government. The worst part about it is that even after a reboot of your device the window will continue to pop up and prevent you from accessing any other apps, seemingly never going away. Of course it's possible that a factory data reset could wipe it out of existence, but then you lose all your apps as well, and we'd wager no one wants to find out.
While we did state above that because this type of malware is new to Android devices some anti-virus apps may not catch it if you attempt to install it, you can do yourself a favor and avoid installing it by watching for various red flags. First, like we said above don't download suspicious apps. When in doubt, leave it alone or verify it. Secondly, you can look for key details about it. The app does not install itself, it has to be installed by the user, which means you can avoid being fooled into downloading and installing it to your device. When the app is going through the installation process, it will ask for permission to read phone status and identity, and request that it be granted full network access and the ability to run at startup and prevent the phone from sleeping. If you decide to download apps outside of trusted sources, you're free to do so, but then it's a good idea to pay attention to what the apps you install want. Paying attention to the permissions can save you a huge headache.