Ransomware is a type of malware that locks users out of their devices or encrypts their data until a ransom is paid. This form of attack has become increasingly widespread in recent years, and it has even begun to target Android devices. This certainly poses a threat to any business, so it's important that you learn how ransomware affects Android devices and how you can protect against this cyberthreat.
How does mobile ransomware work?
Android users may unknowingly download mobile apps riddled with ransomware from third-party app stores or even legitimate ones like Google Play Store. Once these apps are installed, the ransomware is launched, locking the device and encrypting the data it contains. The victim may see a ransom note on the screen demanding payment, usually in cryptocurrency, in exchange for unlocking the device or for the decryption key.
In 2020, Microsoft reported on a particularly sophisticated ransomware strain. It locks a mobile device’s screen and shows a message telling the user that they committed a crime and must pay a fine. The message purports to be from the police, and users cannot dismiss the ransom note. Cybercriminals have been using this technique to make their victims panic, making the latter more likely to pay up.
What should you do if your Android device is infected?
Just as with ransomware that affects computers, there’s no guarantee that paying the ransom will restore access to the device and/or encrypted data. This is why cybersecurity and law enforcement professionals advise against giving in to cybercriminals’ demands. To prevent further infections within your network, experts recommend that you immediately disconnect the infected smartphone or tablet from your business’s Wi-Fi or home network and other devices it’s connected to.
Next, report the incident to your in-house IT staff or managed services provider, who can help find out what type of ransomware you’re dealing with. They can also figure out the best way to remove the ransomware and help you regain control of your device.
How do you protect your business from mobile ransomware?
Remind your employees to download from official app stores only; they should never download from third-party app stores and websites, as well as online forums. Additionally, make sure they turn on Google’s security system, Verify Apps, which scans apps for potential threats before these can be installed. Employees can do this on their Android devices by going to Settings > Security > Verify Apps and enabling “Scan device for security threats.”
Another step you can take is to ensure that all your employees’ mobile devices have antivirus software installed, and that these devices are always kept up to date and running the latest version of Android. Google releases security updates regularly, which often include fixes for newly discovered vulnerabilities.
Finally, regularly back up important files on mobile devices to either a USB drive, a computer, or any cloud-based storage service. This helps ensure your staff won’t lose valuable data if they need to reset their smartphone or tablet.
By following these tips, you can help keep your Android devices and business safe from mobile ransomware attacks.
Stay vigilant. Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions on how to protect your business from different kinds of cyberthreats.