By: Jerry Fetty – Smart I.T.
Ransomware, that ubiquitous maiware that denies users access to their own device, is increasingly showing up on mobile devices. While we typically associate maiware with desktop computers, it’s fully capable of infecting mobile devices, too. In fact, mobile-based ransomware incidents increased nearly four-fold in the past year.
Kaspersky Lab reports that its German customers were victimized by mobile ransomware at the highest rate worldwide, followed by Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Kaspersky claims to have protected 35,412 mobile users from ransomware between April 2014 and March 2015; in the subsequent 12 months, that total skyrocketed to 136,532 users protected. These totals don’t include those who fell victim to attacks, so the actual number of victims is likely much higher.
Similar to ransomware that attacks desktops and laptops, mobile ransomware infects the victim’s phone. Rather than encrypting phone data, mobile device ransomware simply blocks access to apps and displays a note explaining how to pay the demanded ransom.
One ransomware originating in Ukraine locks the keys and replaces the home screen with a fraudulent FBI warning and a MoneyPak voucher code. The warning says that the ransomware recipient broke the law by visiting illegal adult-themed websites. The ransomware shows screenshots from the illegal website and the user’s browser history, and demands a $500 fine.
Keep in mind, attackers are indiscriminate in selecting victims. One simply needs to click on the wrong link on a smartphone to be infected, like in 2014, when a 12-year-old girl unintentionally installed maiware that locked her phone. The maiware downloaded explicit and illegal videos and threatened to contact the FBI if she didn’t pay $500.
So, how can you defend your agency’s devices from ransomware and other malware?
Jerry Fetty is founder and CEO of SMART I.T Services, Inc., an information technology service company that helps independent insurance agenciet increase productivity and profitability by harnessinj the power of technology. Reach him at email@example.com.