Malware that encrypts a user's data and then demands a ransom from them to recover their files, or ransomware, is nothing new. Cryptolocker and similar ransomware has been on the Windows platform for quite some time and has now made the jump to Android in the form of "Simplocker".
The way Simplocker works is simple. Once the device is infected with the malware it goes to work looking for documents, pictures, and audio files. When the scan is complete, Simplocker encrypts the data so that it cannot be viewed or edited until the user agrees to pay to have it unlocked.
Luckily, this new malware is so far not very widespread. Right now Simplocker appears to be mostly contained to Ukraine. Currently the service wants 260 Ukranian hryvnias (or approximately $22 USD) to unlock the data. If you are outside of the Ukraine your devices are probably at less of a risk of getting infected, but you should still follow good security practices of being careful about what you install and the websites you trust.
Simplocker is not the only Android ransomware that is out there. Recently another piece of malware called Koler has been discovered, posing as a porn app. Once installed, Koler sends a message that informs the user that they have broken the law by viewing indecent material and must pay a fine of $300 - not exactly genius level coercion there but still annoying at the least.
Some of the companies behind Android's competing platforms will probably try to use this new info to lobby attacks against the security of Android. But, Android now claims the lion's share of the market, powering a large amount of devices, which makes it a big target for those creating the malware.
The best defense remains to be informed about the threat and to take precautions such as installing well-reviewed antivirus software and keeping an eye out for anything that looks fishy. As we continue to use more technology and devices in our daily life the unfortunate reality is that the number of threats will probably continue to grow. The worst thing a person can do is nothing at all, you shouldn't just assume that because you aren't doing something wrong that you are safe. Bad things happen to good people and you need to be prepared for that, no matter what device or platform you are using (talking to iOS users too).
But at the end of the day mobile platforms are still relatively safe compared to Windows, Microsoft's desktop operating system still is the primary target for ransomware. So let's make sure and be cautious about malware threats, but also keep them in perspective, Simplocker is not to be completely ignored - but it isn't the apocalypse either.
Are you worried about Simplocker? What anti-virus do you use on your devices? Let us know in the comments below!