The number of users attacked by ransomware targeting Android-based devices has increased four-fold in just one year, hitting at least 136,000 users globally.
A report on the ransomware threat landscape, conducted by Kaspersky Lab, also found that the majority of attacks are based on only four groups of malware. The report covers a full two-year period which, for reasons of comparison, has been divided into two parts of 12 months each: from April 2014 to March 2015, and April 2015 to March 2016. These particular timescales were chosen because they witnessed several significant changes in the mobile ransomware threat landscape.
Ransomware – a type of malware that blocks access to information on a victim’s device by locking the screen with a special window or encrypting important files, and then extorts money – is a widely recognised security problem today. But it is not only PC users who are in danger. The cyber-threat landscape for owners of Android-based devices is also being filled with ransomware, as is clearly visible in the key findings of the report.
· The number of users attacked with mobile ransomware increased almost four-fold: from 35,413 users in 2014-2015, to 136,532 users in 2015-2016.
· The share of users attacked with ransomware as a proportion of users attacked with any kind of Android malware also increased: from 2.04% in 2014-2015, to 4.63% in 2015-2016.
· Only four groups of malware were responsible for more than 90% of all attacks registered in the period. They are the Small, Fusob, Pletor and Svpeng malicious families.
· Unlike the threats facing PCs, where crypto-ransomware is skyrocketing while the number of users attacked with screen-blockers is decreasing, Android ransomware is mostly in the form of screen-blockers. This is due to the fact that Android-based devices can’t remove screen lockers with help of external hardware, making mobile screen blockers as effective as PC crypto-ransomware.
Although the actual number of users attacked with ransomware is lower and the rate of growth slower than that seen for PC ransomware, the situation with Android ransomware is still worrying. At the start of the comparison period, the monthly number of users who encountered this type of malware on Android devices was almost zero, but by the end it had reached nearly 30,000 attacked users per month. This clearly indicates that criminals are actively exploring alternative opportunities to the PC and show no signs of moving on.
“The extortion model is here to stay. Mobile ransomware emerged as a follow-up to PC ransomware and it is likely that it will be followed-up with malware targeting devices that are very different to a PC or a smartphone. These could be connected devices like smart watches, smart TVs, and other smart products including home and in-car entertainment systems. There are a few proof-of-concepts for some of these devices, and the appearance of actual malware targeting smart devices is only a question of time,” said Roman Unuchek, mobile security expert at Kaspersky Lab.
In order to protect yourself from mobile ransomware attacks, Kaspersky Lab advises the following measures:
· Restrict the installation of apps from sources other than official app stores.
· Use a reliable security solution capable of detecting malware and malicious web links.
· If installing apps from non-official sources is unavoidable, keep an eye on what permissions the app is requesting. Don’t install such apps without a security solution in place.
· Educate yourself and your relatives on the latest forms of malware propagation. This will help you to detect an attempted social-engineering attack.
Now download a bank account
Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.
This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.
“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.
“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”
The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:
- Download the Absa App
- Choose the account you would like to open
- Tell us who you are
- To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
- Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
- Tell us where you live
- Let us know what you do for a living and your income
- Click Apply.
How we use phones to avoid human contact
A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.
Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances.
Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?
The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.
In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.
Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.
Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”
To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:
· I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?
With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.
· Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?
Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.
· I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?
Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.