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New ransomware locks your phone's files

New ransomware locks your phone's files
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

You might remember my warnings about the CryptoLocker virus. This dangerous virus encrypts your documents and gives you four days to pay a ransom to get them back. To add insult to injury, the ransom can get as high as $2,000.

CryptoLocker only affected Windows computers, but now, there's a copycat virus aimed at Android gadgets and it's been dubbed Simplelocker - you might also see it called Simplocker and Andr/Slocker-A.

Infected users will first see a pop-up error message on their screen. The message will accuse you of a crime, such as downloading illegal files or viewing child pornography, and say that law enforcement has locked your files for evidence. To get them back, and avoid "police prosecution," you naturally have to pay.

Unlike past viruses, this one really will lock your files. If you boot into Safe Mode fast enough you might be able to remove SimpleLocker before it finishes encrypting them. However, once you remove it, any files that were locked are probably locked forever - you can't ransom them.

So far, the virus has only shown up in Russia and Ukraine, but I have a feeling it won't take long until it hits the states, like this scary ransomware hack that migrated to the U.S. from Australia.

The best way to avoid SimpleLocker is to only install legitimate apps from the Google Play or Amazon stores. Installing apps from smaller sites - especially foreign ones - is a good way to get a virus or malicious app.

You should also make sure the app you want to install is the original. Hackers like to add viruses to real apps and then upload them to the Google Store. Look at the date the app was uploaded and how many downloads it has had.

You can also install security software to scan apps before they install. Lookout Mobile Security is a good one.

Don't forget to back up your files as well. Android and iPhone both have built-in backup systems for contacts, photos and more. You can also sync files to your computer or upload important files to cloud storage like Dropbox.

Click here to learn about more ways to secure your smartphone or tablet.

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