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Scary new Android malware holds your data hostage and demands a ransom

Published Jun 5th, 2014 12:36PM EDT
Android Malware

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When several Android users began wishing that some iOS features would make their way over to the Android platform, we sincerely doubt that this is what they had in mind. We recently told you about a scary new scam being pulled by hackers who found a way to take iPhones hostage and remotely lock users out unless they agreed to pay a ransom. Well it looks like some enterprising hackers have now taken things to the next level and found a new way to automate the process on Android devices.

The Guardian on Monday reported on some new Android ransomware called Simplocker. Once installed on an Android device, the software encrypts all of the data on the user’s memory card and then demands a ransom in order to unlock it. The software also transmits the device’s IMEI number and other identifying information to a remote server controlled by the hackers.

According to the report, Simplocker has only appeared on devices in the Ukraine so far, but it’s entirely possible that similar mobile ransomware will make its way to other regions as hackers becoming increasingly interested in the category.

So what should you do if you find yourself a victim of a ransomware attack? Apparently, nothing.

“While the malware does contain functionality to decrypt the files, we strongly recommend against paying up – not only because that will only motivate other malware authors to continue these kinds of filthy operations, but also because there is no guarantee that the crook will keep their part of the deal and actually decrypt them,” ESET security researcher Robert Lipovsky told The Guardian.

Sadly, your best bet is to wipe your phone and start fresh.

Make sure you backup your data as often as possible and also avoid downloading files or installing apps from unknown sources.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.