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Stephen Green


August 28, 2014 - 9:15 am


That is, there’s another app for hijacking your phone:

You are guilty of child porn, child abuse, zoophilia or sending out bulk spam. You are a criminal. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has locked you out of your phone and the only way to regain access to all your data is to pay a few hundred dollars.

That message — or variations of it — has popped up on hundreds of thousands of people’s Android devices in just the last month. The message claims to be from the F.B.I., or cybersecurity firms, but is in fact the work of Eastern European hackers who are hijacking Android devices with a particularly pernicious form of malware, dubbed “ransomware” because it holds its victims’ devices hostage until they pay a ransom.

Ransomware is not new. Five years ago, criminals in Eastern Europe began holding PC users’ devices hostage with similar tools. The scheme was so successful that security experts say many cybercriminals have abandoned spam and fake antivirus frauds to take up ransomware full time. By 2012, security experts had identified more than 16 gangs extorting millions from ransomware victims around the world.

Now those same criminals are taking their scheme mobile, successfully infecting Android devices at disturbing rates. In just the last 30 days, roughly 900,000 people were targeted with a form of ransomware called “ScarePackage,” according to Lookout, a San Francisco-based mobile security firm.

900,000 isn’t a whole lot of mobile phone users in a global market of billions — but it’s enough to generate the profits necessary to keep these illicit activities growing.


cross-posted from Vodkapundit

Stephen Green began blogging at in early 2002, and has served as PJMedia's Denver editor since 2008. He's one of the hosts on PJTV, and one-third of PJTV's Trifecta team with Scott Ott and Bill Whittle. Steve lives with his wife and sons in the hills and woods of Monument, Colorado, where he enjoys the occasional lovely adult beverage.

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The basics of malware safety are simple.
If a website asks to install anything, turn your power off (or use your version of Task Manager to shut all web ops down). Let the device do an ugly restart if necessary. The message "You need this video player" or anything else means the bad guys are halfway into your computer.
Never open any attachment unless you know the sender and why you are receiving it. When you send an attachment, put something in your message body to validate the attachment.
A link in an e-mail attachment may lead to a site that tries to load malware, so watch out when you follow links. They have to have some help from you to get the malware on board.
And that nice person on the phone, the one who called you from Dell or Apple or Microsoft? Nope. Say something nasty and hang up. Nobody calls you to tell you to install an update from the web. Nobody.
Sez a guy in the trade. You probably knew this. Make sure your family knows it too.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
"They have to have some help from you to get the malware on board."

This is the most important lesson to learn about computer safety.

If you don't help them, there is almost nothing they can do to you.

Most people gleefully help them.

26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
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