By now, most people know what ransomware is: malicious software that threatens to publish or erase its victims' data unless they pay a ransom. But with the surge in mobile device computing, it was inevitable that ransomware would adapt to find new victims. Let’s discuss how it works and what you can do to prevent it.
How does ransomware make it onto your Android device?
Like its desktop equivalent, mobile ransomware needs to be installed on your device before it can do damage. For Android devices, this means mobile apps that hide their true intent. There are two ways to install programs on your mobile device: downloading them from app stores like Google Play and Amazon Appstore, or downloading them directly from websites and email links.
Surprisingly, both come with risks. Unverified sources often advertise free apps that hide malware, and the best of these can occasionally avoid detection and be allowed into monitored app stores.
What does mobile ransomware look like?
Similar to ransomware on personal computers, mobile ransomware holds data stored on your device hostage and demands ransom. For example, in the case of a ransomware that came with the "OK" app, a popular Russian social network platform that was infected earlier this year, a user is prompted to change device settings. There is no option to close the prompt and tapping Accept locks everything down and leaves you with nothing but a ransom note.
How to protect yourself from mobile ransomware
First and foremost, avoid downloading apps directly from websites or third-party app stores. Additionally, make sure you turn on Google’s security system -- Verify Apps -- which scans all the apps about to be installed on your device for potential threats. You can do so by opening your Android's settings, choosing Security, tapping on Verify Apps, and activating ‘Scan device for security threats’.
Second, install antivirus software on your device and keep it up to date.
Third, back up important files from your device to either a USB disk, a computer, or any cloud-based services. This way, you won’t lose your valuable data if you are forced to factory-reset your device.
Last, if ransomware made its way into your device, don’t pay. According to IT security company ESET, mobile ransomware very rarely includes programming to reverse the damage it has done.
Losing any type of data is an enormous inconvenience, but businesses need to be especially careful about careless employees. Data loss could result in lawsuits or regulatory fines, so it’s important that you know how to safeguard your Android against ransomware.
For more in-depth advice on how to protect yourself and your business from this threat, get in touch with our experts today.