Android users have had their share of ransomware attacks this year. And yet things don’t seem to be getting any better for them. A new variant of the Koler ransomware – which first struck in 2014, branching out of the Reveton Windows screen-locking ransomware family – has surfaced recently and is currently infecting operating systems of US Android users, disguising itself as a malicious PornHub Android app.
Since the internet came into existence, porn has been inextricably associated with it. And Koler continues to exploit this factor. (The earlier version too worked on similar lines using porn as bait). Various pornographic websites across the US have been deceived into displaying ads for a PornHub Android app – the disguise under which Kolder ransomware hides – which Android users can download. The moment users download it, the ransomware takes over, locking the device.
Finding its way into the users’ Android devices upon download, Koler ransomware sets to work within a short time, gaining admin privileges and taking control of the phone. Then it locks down the device and displays the ransom note, demanding users to pay a fee of $500 within 3 calendar days. The ransom note of Koler remains identical to its previous version displaying a police-themed warning, asking them to pay a fine because of their adult content viewing habits.
The only difference between this variant of the Koler and the earlier one – apart from the mode of attack – is that despite having geo-targeting capabilities this new Koler seems to be targeting only the US citizens, giving rise to speculation whether hackers have something against the US citizens in particular.
After having faced a slew of ransomware attacks from various malicious software – ranging from banking Trojans to keyloggers and everything in between – it is expected that Android security applications will witness a surge in downloads in the coming months. Without doubt antivirus for Android is going to become a must-have in every Android phone user’s list.
So what can Android users do to protect their devices? Here are some suggestions:
1. Antivirus for Android: Antivirus for Android devices should be the first security app users should be downloading. There are many Android antivirus apps available for free in the market. Choose one which is simple and yet equipped enough to protect your phone.
2. Avoid Rooting: Rooting is a process which gives Android users the admin privileges; which allows them to access Android operating system code and modify it so that they can install other software which is normally not allowed by the Android manufacturer. This is something Android users should never do because fiddling with the manufacturer’s code could make the device drastically susceptible to hacking.
3. Download Only from Official App Stores: Download apps only from trusted sources like the Google Play app store. Because non-official third-party apps are literally breeding grounds for various types of malware which can break into your device the moment you access them.
4. Connect Only to Secure Networks: When you’re in a rush, accessing public wi-fi(s) may seem a lucrative option. But never commit this grave mistake. Because unsecured wi-fi networks can be easily used to stage man-in-the-middle attacks where data can be intercepted easily by malicious third parties.
5. Strengthen Your Password: One of the easiest things to do and yet one that we forget often. Password to your device and other apps you might use via that device should be, like always, an ideal mix of alphabets, numbers, symbols and special characters. This will make it tough for the hackers crack your password and get into your device by carrying out dictionary attacks.