Smartphone ransomware poses a significant risk to both individuals and businesses. While ransomware attacks have traditionally been associated with PCs, it is crucial to recognise that smartphones are also vulnerable to these threats.
Smartphone ransomware, also known as mobile ransomware, is specifically designed to target smartphones, unlike its PC counterpart. Many people overlook the fact that smartphones are susceptible to malware, including ransomware.
Similar to PC ransomware, smartphone ransomware's objective is to hold your device hostage or steal your data. When a smartphone is infected with ransomware, it typically encrypts the stored data, effectively rendering it inaccessible. Additionally, it can lock you out of your phone and modify your login PIN, leaving you completely helpless. But why are smartphones targeted by threat actors?
Smartphones contain a vast amount of personal data, including applications, contacts, photos, emails, and saved passwords. This wealth of information makes smartphones an attractive target for cybercriminals, leading to an increase in malware infections on these devices. Malicious software such as spyware, adware, viruses, and ransomware can infiltrate smartphones, enabling the theft of sensitive data, including payment information, text messages, and browsing activities.
Both iPhones and Android devices can be infected with smartphone ransomware, especially those not operating with a VPN service. However, the degree of vulnerability may vary depending on the specific ransomware variant. Also, it is worth noting that Android devices are generally more vulnerable to malware than iPhones.
Numerous mobile ransomware programs have been used in past attacks. Noteworthy examples include CryptoLocker, ScarePackage, DoubleLocker, LeakerLocker, LockerPin, and Worm.Koler. Each program functions differently, targeting various operating systems and employing distinct techniques. For instance, DoubleLocker exclusively targets Android devices, while CryptoLocker, which was discontinued in 2014, has a record of affecting both iPhone and Android phones in the past.
One particularly concerning case involved the ScarePackage ransomware, which infected over 900,000 phones within a month. Another instance of mobile ransomware, called LeakerLocker, caused alarm in 2017 as it infiltrated Android devices through the Google Play Store. Unlike traditional ransomware, LeakerLocker did not encrypt files. Instead, it locked the phone and proceeded to collect valuable data such as emails, social media messages, and browser data.
Ransomware operators want victims to be aware of their attack, as they rely on receiving a ransom to restore device control and access to files. They display warnings on the home screen or lock screen, detailing their demands and specifying a timeframe for paying the ransom before the encrypted or stolen data is released or disseminated.
However, some forms of mobile ransomware, which Possibly gain access to your phone due to unprotected online activities with hide VPN, operate discreetly, stealing data without detection. In such cases, your sensitive information can be accessed and pilfered without your knowledge.
Fortunately, decryption tools are available online for many types of ransomware, especially those with simple designs. If your phone has not been locked by the ransomware and the attack came in the form of a malicious app, quickly delete the app.
Threat actors' prime targets might be top officials and employees of high-profile companies. However, nothing is stopping them from targeting your smartphone even if you are not on their radar.