Integrated Security Services, Inc., New York

Ransomware Prevalence Growing on Mobile

24 Sep

Malware on cellphone Image Source: Gadgetfreak.gr

Mobile devices now account for approximately half of internet traffic around the globe, and the speed at which the world is shifting from a desktop environment to a mobile one is accelerating. According to a report by Cisco Systems, mobile devices will represent nearly 70% of all internet traffic by 2019. Following this shift in traffic, hackers are becoming increasingly focused on targeting mobile devices for malware and other attacks. One common desktop attack that has made the jump over to mobile devices is what is known as ransomware.

An introduction to ransomware

Ransomware is a specific type of malware that takes control of or otherwise renders your device unusable unless a ransom is paid to the hackers. The popularity of this scam targeting cell phones has increased dramatically. According to a report by Lookout, a provider of mobile phone security software, more than 4 million Android phone users encountered ransomware in 2014 in the US alone. Most current iterations target mobile browsers and will state that a third party application has caused an issue and will encourage users to call “tech support” to get it “fixed.” There is another, more sinister version of the scam, discovered recently where hackers will either upload child pornography to the device or simply put up a warning that the device has been found to have viewed child pornography, and cites US statutes relating to the violation and threatens to report the user to the FBI, unless the ransom is paid.

As with desktop computers, the most common way a device gets hijacked by ransomware is through clicking an infected link in an email or on a website. It is also fairly common for advertisements on pornography websites to be infected with ransomware. However, despite the proliferation of ransomware on mobile phones, getting rid of the ransomware is generally much easier than it is on desktop machines. On desktop computers, ransomware usually takes control of the entire device. On mobile devices, ransomware generally only hijacks the web browser making removal easier.

Addressing ransomware and other mobile malware

Removing ransomware from a mobile device is often as simple as putting the device into offline mode and clearing the cache and browsing history of the web browser. The least effective method for removing ransomware is paying the ransom. Once the ransom is paid, there is no guarantee the hackers will release your device.

The best way to get rid of ransomware and other malware is to never become a victim in the first place. With nearly 2 billion smartphone users around the globe, security software companies are creating antivirus software for mobile devices; however, according to a survey by Consumer Reports, only 14% of respondents have antivirus software on their smartphones.

Properly securing mobile devices is becoming increasingly important to both individuals and businesses,
as the role they play in our lives, both professionally and personally, increases every year. Vast amounts of sensitive data are stored on or are accessible from smartphones. Working with security and investigation firms, like Integrated Security Services, can ensure that proper security protocols are established in order to protect your sensitive data. Integrated’s IT forensic specialists can dissect your mobile devices to determine if any malware has been imbedded or if any listening bugs have been planted. These days, forgetting your phone for the day is a major hassle, but when your phone becomes inoperable due to malware, the IT staff at Integrated Security will always be available.