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Android ransomware threat
© Maksym Velishchuk |
Security & privacy

New ransomware could lock down your smartphone

There is plenty of malware out there, all with devastating consequences. But arguably, the worst type of malware is ransomware. That’s when hackers infect your mobile phone or computer with a virus that locks down your information. Only after you pay the ransom is your device unlocked.

Ransomware isn’t new, but hackers have historically focused on large companies. A perfect example is when payroll company Kronos was hit by ransomware late last year, delaying the distribution of paychecks by up to two weeks.

But hackers are more frequently attacking individual users and shifting attacks to mobile devices. Read on to see how the latest virus can lock down your phone.

Here’s the backstory

The dangerous banking Trojan SOVA has been around for a while, but security researchers at Cleafy found a new strain that targets Android devices. The fifth version of this threat has many new features, but the most troubling is the ability to encrypt data. This is a sophisticated ransomware attack.

Cleafy explains in a blog post that the latest version of SOVA uses AES encryption to add the .enc file extension to all objects on your device. However, since no mobile phone can read the .enc format, it can’t open them.

According to Cleafy, this new version isn’t even final yet. “In fact, the malware seems to be still under development due to the presence of multiple logs used for debugging.”

The previous version landed on mobile phones through fake renditions of the Amazon app, Google Chrome, and other NFT platforms. Here are some things the malware can do now:

  • Capture screenshots.
  • Record sensitive information.
  • Steal personal details.
  • Run other malicious attacks from an infected device.
  • Encrypt important files on your device.

What you can do about it

Malware, and ransomware, in particular, can cause many problems. There are a few things that you can do to keep your device and details safe. Here are some suggestions:

  • Back up all your important files with a trustworthy service. If your device gets infected with ransomware, you can do a factory reset and not lose anything important. We recommend our sponsor, IDrive. IDrive protects all your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android devices with just one account. Tap or click here to save 90% on 5 TB of cloud backup today with IDrive!
  • Only download apps from official app stores. Third-party libraries don’t have the robust security protocols found in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store.
  • Ensure that your phone’s operating system is updated. Software patches often prevent the exploitation of security vulnerabilities.
  • Don’t click links or open files from unsolicited emails or text messages, including PDFs, Excel spreadsheets or Word docs.
  • Always have a trusted antivirus program updated and running on all your devices. This will help keep ransomware from infecting your device in the first place. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Right now, get an annual plan with TotalAV for only $19 at That’s over 85% off the regular price!

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