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Ransomware is as unpleasant a malware as they come, and can ruin your day by encrypting your files until a ransom is paid. Unfortunately, the threat is getting worse, seeing as it’s now capable of infecting smartphones, too.

Mobile-based ransomware has been on the rise this year, so much that its presence has nearly quadrupled. Software security group Kaspersky Lab claims that their customers in Germany were victimized by mobile ransomware at the highest rate worldwide. Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States followed closely. Kaspersky cited that it protected 35,412 mobile users from ransomware between April 2014 and March of 2015. The next year, this total blew up to 136,532 users. These figures include those who were targeted and protected from ransomware hacks, not those that were actually infected with ransomware. That total is likely much, much higher.

Mobile ransomware works in much the same way as it does on desktops and laptops. It infects the victim’s phone; however, rather than encrypt files that are stored locally on it (most users have these files backed up anyway), the ransomware will target apps, blocking access to them until the ransom has been paid.

These mobile ransomwares tend to play rough. One example is a ransomware originating in Ukraine that locks the keys and replaces the home screen with a warning from the FBI. The fraudulent warning claims that the user has broken the law by visiting illegal adult-themed websites, and it includes screenshots that incriminate the user. The ransomware demands a $500 fine, paid for with a MoneyPak voucher.

These attacks don’t seem to care who they target, either. All you need to do to download it is click the wrong link. In 2014, a 12-year-old girl accidentally installed malware on her device that locked the phone, downloaded repulsive videos, and threatened legal action if she didn’t pay the $500 fine.

How can you defend yourself against such a dangerous threat?

Update Your Phone’s Software
Malware might constantly be upgrading itself, but so are software updates. This neverending race seems to be in an attempt to thwart the other, and without the most recent versions of each software on your phone, it won’t be able to stand up to the most advanced malware on the market. If updated regularly, your device may be able to prevent potential threats from infecting it altogether.

Use Cloud-Based Backup
This is a best practice that should be implemented regardless of whether or not you’ve been struck with ransomware. In the worst-case scenario, and you have to wipe your device in order to get rid of the ransomware, your files will be safely stored in the cloud, ready to be restored.

Avoid Questionable Downloads
If you can’t identify the source of a download, or you simply don’t trust it, don’t download it. Period. It’s as easy as that. Otherwise, you’re exposing your device to a potentially malicious entity that could have easily been avoided.

Contact the Authorities
It might seem like a bad thing to do if you suddenly find illegal content on your device, but you need to contact the authorities if you suspect you’ve been the target of a ransomware plant. In the aforementioned incident with the 12-year-old girl, the authorities were contacted, and they could tell that it was a plant. Even if there is illegal material on your phone, law enforcement members will be able to tell that it’s a plant from ransomware.

For more information about how to beat ransomware on any device, reach out to us today.