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Thousands of Android phones are being hijacked by terrifying ransomware

Published Aug 26th, 2014 6:15PM EDT
Android Phones Ransomware Attacks

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Android users beware — another major malware threat has taken the mobile world by storm. According to San Francisco-based security firm Lookout, nearly 900,000 Android phones have been targeted by a form of ransomware called “ScarePackage” in the last 30 days, The New York Times reports.

“This is, by far, the biggest U.S. targeted threat of ransomware we’ve seen,” Jeremy Linden, a senior security product manager at Lookout told the Times. “In the past month, a single piece of malware has affected as many devices in the U.S., as a quarter of all families of malware in 2013.”

If you’ve never been infected with ransomware before, consider yourself lucky. Ransomware locks you out of your device and overlays a message on the screen which typically accuses you of distributing illegal pornography or conducting some other atrocious (and illegal) activity. Until you pay a fee of several hundred dollars, your phone remains locked.

Although ScarePackage is the most pervasive, other, more dangerous strains have been discovered as well which can give hackers access to the phone’s camera, the ability to place phone calls and access to banking apps. Scariest of all, it couldn’t be easier to get infected — simply visit the wrong website or download a fake app and your phone could be hijacked.

Lookout says that although the ransomware threat is very real, it can be avoided by simply being careful. Don’t visit websites you don’t trust, don’t give any suspicious apps administrator privileges and just be smart about how you use your phone.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.