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New Android malware is holding phones to ransom

Researchers have uncovered new Android based malware that holds smartphones for ransom, claiming that you must pay $300 or face completely false criminal charges for viewing illegal porn. In order to really freak people out, Android-Trojan.Koler.A uses Geo location data to tailor warnings to whichever country the user is based in.

Infected phones in the US will see an FBI warning while people in Romania, the UK or other countries will see slightly different warnings. If your phone gets infected, it's essentially rendered useless as it blocks access to the home screen, making it impossible to use other apps on the phone.


Phone functions will only be restored once an infected user pays a $300 fine through an untraceable payment method such as Paysafecard or uKash. This discovery has come a year and a half after Sysmantec found that Ransomeware rakes in $5 million per year.

Bitdefender Senior E-Threat Analyst, Bogdan Botezatu, said in an email to Arstechnica that “The ransomware's main component is a browser view that stays on top of all other applications. You can press Home and go to the homescreen, but a timer would bring it back on top in about 5 seconds.”

The threat analyst actually managed to uninstall the infection but it could be difficult to do: “I managed to uninstall it manually by swiftly going to applications and dragging the icon on the Uninstall control, but it only works if the application icon is on the first row. Otherwise, one wouldn't have the necessary time to drag it to the top, where the uninstall control is located.”

The malicious package is automatically installed on Android devices when visiting certain adult websites. So far there have been 68 victims today, 12 in the UK, five in the US, 40 in the United Arab Emirates, six in Germany and the rest come from Poland and Italy.

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KitGuru Says: Ransomeware is becoming an increasingly big problem as criminals get smarter at tricking gullible users in to paying fines and such. This isn't just limited to Android phones either, Cryptolocker is able to hold PC hard drives hostage until users pay a $300 bitcoin fine. If you're going to visit dodgy sites, it's probably best to protect your phone with some Anti-Virus software. 

Source: Arstechnica, Wired

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  1. This is why you should have your Android device ROOTED, because it’s easy to force uninstall apps like these – also, if you’ve a custom recovery, that makes it easy to uninstall apps as well or restore your phone.

  2. @James Thompson Not everyone is ALLOWED to root their device. I’ve asked my carrier, Virgin, and they’ve said that rooting will automatically void warranty on any of their contract mobile phones.

  3. Ed Harrison Sadler

    Ukash reminds all mobile, tablet and computer users to heed this three point advice:

    1. Never pay advance fees even if you believe you’re paying a fine
    2. Never use payment schemes that you are not familiar with
    3. Only use Ukash codes on the internet and only at genuine websites, never send them by phone or e-mail.

    More information on why Ukash is the safe to pay online can be found here