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Beware: Ransomware email attacks phones and tablets

Beware: Ransomware email attacks phones and tablets
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Android users beware. Cybercrooks have launched a new attack that looks like a pretty convincing FBI warning. Don't fall for it!  This nasty ransomware email attack going around can lock your smartphone or tablet until you cough up hundreds of dollars to the criminals on the other end.

According to online security firm Bitdefender, 15,000 spam emails containing the ransomware have gone out to Android users. The ransomware is disguised as an Adobe Flash Player update. If you download it, it installs as a video player that launches a fake error screen when you try to use it. The message is a bogus FBI warning message that says users broke the law by visiting adult sites.

[Chief Security Strategist at Bitdefender] Catalin Cosoi continues, “Unfortunately, there is not much users can do if infected with ransomware, even if this particular strain does not encrypt the files on the infected terminal. The device’s home screen button and back functionalities are no longer working, and turning the device on/off doesn’t help either, as the malware runs when the operating system boots.”

The ransomware demands that users pay $500 to regain control of their gadget. If they try to unlock the device, that price can rise to $1,500.

Once your tablet or smartphone is infected by this ransomware, it's difficult to remove without paying the criminals. If you're gadget supports Safe Boot mode, you may be able to uninstall the ransomware that way.

In certain circumstances, Android users can reclaim control of their devices. If ADB (Android Data Bridge) is enabled on the infected Android, users can programmatically uninstall the offending application.

As always, the first step to protecting yourself is refusing to install applications from emails and other sources you don't know. Your Android gadget should automatically block you from downloading applications outside of the Google Play Store. Even if the email is claiming to be an update from a trusted company like Adobe, you should be skeptical because Adobe doesn't push out updates through email attachments.

You should also back up the data on your tablet or smartphone regularly and make sure that you have good anti-virus protection on your computer. Visit my Security Center to learn more ways to protect your gadgets.

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