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New Strain of “Ransomware” Can Hold Your Android Phone Hostage

New Strain of “Ransomware” Can Hold Your Android Phone Hostage

AndroidIf your Android phone locks up and accuses you of watching child pornography, you may very well be the victim of a new piece of malware that attempts to scare Android users into paying money to regain the use of their device.

Ars Technica reports that this malware, called Android-Trojan.Koler.A uses your geolocation technology and sends a notification appearing to be coming from your government’s top law-enforcement agencies.  The malware prevents users from accessing the home screen of their phones, making it impossible to use most other apps installed on the phone.

This particular piece of ransomware instructs users to send $300 through money transfer programs such as PaySafeCard or uKash (known to be used in other ransomware schemes.)

The Koler.A trojan will generate a message that will tell you that you’ve been busted for watching illegal pornography and, most incredibly, will inform you that you can settle these charges by sending the $300 mentioned above.  The malicious Android Package is automatically downloaded when people visit certain pornography sites using an Android phone. The sites then claim that the APK installs a video player used for premium access. To be infected, a user must change Android settings to allow out-of-market apps and then manually install the APK.

Ransomware is becoming a more and more popular type of malware and is spilling over from the PC world over to the mobile world.  Malware that takes computers hostage until users pay a ransom is getting meaner, and thanks to the growing prevalence of Bitcoin and other digital payment systems, it’s easier than ever for online crooks to capitalize on these “ransomware” schemes.  Recently, ransomware scammers upped their game by building strong cryptography into malware, known as Cryptolocker, that holds entire hard drives hostage until end users pay a Bitcoin ransom of $300.

Android users should remain highly cautious when downloading Android apps, especially those available from sources other than the official Google Play Store.

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