Today's post highlights another reason consumers should install (and keep updated) the anti-virus software on their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Experts expect online criminals to migrate their ransomware attacks from personal computers (e.g., desktops and laptops running Windows OS, operating system software) to mobile devices.
With ransomware, criminals install malware on the victim's computer that takes over the computer. The malware is disguised within mobile apps or in bogus software (e.g., fake anti-virus). Some ransomware, known as "police trojans" pretend to be software from law enforcement. Once installed upon and in control of a victim's computer, the criminals demand payment for the victim to get control back of their computer. The payment is usually to wire money to a foreign account. Of course, there is no guarantee that the victim will get control back of their computer back after payment.
Experts expect ransomware to target mobile devices running the Android OS. Why Android OS devices? CSO Online reported:
"Any business can open an Android app store with or without a mechanism for vetting the available software. As a result, the platform has become a favorite target for cyber criminals... In 2012, the number of Android malware was up 2,577% from the previous year..."
Earlier this year, European law enforcement broke up a ransomware theft ring that had targeted victims in 30 countries. Reportedly, about 3 percent of victims paid $100 Euros (about $134 U.S.) to the online criminals. Officials estimated that the theft ring made millions of Euros.
Ransomware appeals to criminals because it is difficult for consumers to remove the software. So, prevention is the best method for consumers. To avoid ransomware, experts advise consumers to:
- Visit only well-known, reputable app stores
- Install and keep updated anti-virus software on your mobile device(s)
- Regularly back up data on your mobile device(s)
- If you have an Apple iOS mobile device, don't "jailbreak" it
If your computer or mobile device has been infected with ransomware, experts advise consumers:
- Don't pay the ransom because there's no guarantee you'll get control of your computer back
- Try running a virus scan with your anti-virus software. It may remove the ransomware
- Don't connect your infected mobile device to any other computers. You may infect them, too
- Read this article about how to remove ransomware from a mobile device