Android Devices Become New Target of Ransomware Scams
Criminals have created programs that masquerade as antivirus apps, but instead of defending the system, they lock up the smartphone until the victim pays a ransom.Criminals have begun targeting smartphones with software that locks up the devices until the victims pay a ransom to get the unlock code, security firm Symantec stated in a brief analysis of the malware. Known as ransomware, the scam has typically targeted personal computers, where it has become a profitable way for cyber-criminals to fleece consumers whose computers are not adequately protected against these scams. Now, the aggressive fake antivirus scam has spread to mobile devices as well, Symantec stated in a blog post. A program called Android Defender—not related to a legitimate program of the same name—infects the victim's device by using a fake installer and then appears to do a scan, finding a number of critical security issues. If the user does not buy the program, it will eventually make the device unusable, said Kevin Haley, director of product management of Symantec's security response group. "It is ransomware because it won't give you your phone back until you pay for it," he told eWEEK. "It won't let you start other apps, and keeps throwing up pop-up dialog boxes and notifications."