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How Dangerous Is Smartphone Ransomware? | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


Ransomware is an undeniable threat to businesses and individuals, but we usually see it infecting PCs. Yet ransomware can also spread to smartphones, and this can have equally dire consequences. So, how does smartphone ransomware work, and just how dangerous is it?



What Is Smartphone Ransomware?

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Smartphone ransomware, also known as mobile ransomware, specifically targets smartphones instead of PCs. Many people forget that smartphones are vulnerable to malware attacks, with ransomware being no exception.

Like PC ransomware, smartphone ransomware is used with the goal of taking your data hostage or outright stealing it. When the ransomware infects a device, it typically encrypts the data stored on it. This can also lock you out of your phone and change your login PIN, leaving you completely unable to do anything.

Both iPhone and Android devices can be infected with smartphone ransomware. However, depending on the nature of the specific ransomware being used, one operating system may be more at risk than another.

Types of Smartphone Ransomware

There’s no shortage of mobile ransomware programs that have been used in past attacks. Among this long list are a few notable examples, including:

  • Cryptolocker.
  • ScarePackage.
  • DoubleLocker.
  • LeakerLocker.
  • LockerPin.
  • Worm.Koler.

Each of these programs work differently. Doublelocker, for instance, targets only Android devices, while Cryptolocker has infected both iPhones and Android phones in the past. However, Cryptolocker is no longer in use, and was shut down in 2014.

Around the same time, another form of ransomware, known as ScarePackage, managed to infect over 900,000 phones in the space of a month.

LeakerLocker ransomware also caused a lot of concern in 2017 when it was found to be infecting Android devices via the Google Play Store. This was a particularly interesting form of mobile ransomware, as it did not encrypt any files after infection. Rather, LeakerLocker locked your phone, and then got to work collecting all kinds of valuable data, such as emails, social media messages, and browser data.

We must note here that Android devices are more susceptible to all forms of malware than iPhones.

Why Are Smartphones Targeted With Ransomware?

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There are large hordes of data stored on our smartphones, including applications, contacts, photos, emails, saved passwords, and more. This makes smartphones a prime target for cybercriminals, which is why we’re seeing increasing instances of malware infections on these devices.

Spyware, adware, viruses, and ransomware have all been used to infect smartphones and steal data, be it payment information, text messages, or even browser activity.

Even if you comply with the attacker’s demands and regain control of your smartphone, there’s no way of knowing whether they stole certain data during infection. Of course, ransomware attackers aren’t highly moral, so hitting the road with your ransom payment, along with other profitable data, certainly isn’t out of the question either.

Signs of Smartphone Ransomware

Unlike many other forms of malware, ransomware operators usually want to be noticed by their victims. This is because the attackers require a ransom from the victim in order to return control of their device, along with their files.

Ransomware operators tend to alert you on your home screen, such as your laptop’s desktop, that your device has been infected. On a phone, your lock screen or home screen could have its wallpaper changed to notify you that you are the target of a ransomware attack. Operators usually list their demands in this notice, as well as the time you have to comply before they steal or publicize the encrypted or stolen data.

However, some mobile ransomware is used to steal data without detection. In such a scenario, your sensitive information may be accessed and stolen without your knowledge. This isn’t typical for ransomware, hence its name, but is certainly possible. Check out our malware symptoms guide to see other red flags that may suggest your device has been targeted.

There are decryption tools available online for many forms of ransomware, especially those that are simpler in design. On the other hand, if the ransomware hasn’t locked your phone and came in the form of a malicious app, be sure you delete that app immediately.

Smartphone Ransomware Is a Very Real Threat

While you may think you’ll never become a ransomware target, almost anyone can fall victim to such an attack. While high-profile individuals and organizations are often targeted by ransomware operators, there’s no stopping a cybercriminal from choosing your device.

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National Cyber Security

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