Hackers are finding witty ways of getting money from smartphone users and the latest one involves the popular Google Chrome, an app that you’ll find on a huge chunk of Android devices out there.
While many Android users have the thinking that ransomware attacks do not target them, the latest version is actually after this popular mobile platform. According to reports, the terrifying virus threatens Google Chrome users that unless they pay a $50 ransom (about Ksh 5,000), their entire web browsing history saved on the app will be shared with their family members and friends.
The deadly ransomware has been discovered in the Google Play Store, which makes it even more dangerous. Researchers at McAfee say that the new malware, which has been baptized LeakerLocker, threatens Android users with the claims that it has made a backup of your phone’s entire data, including pictures, call logs, Facebook messages, emails, Google Chrome web browsing history, contacts, SMS conversations and even your location data.
The malware then goes ahead to warn that if you don’t pay $50, all of this data will be published to every person in your email and phone contacts, something that can turn out to be really nasty for many out there. Traditionally, ransomware attacks are known to attack devices and encrypt data and later demand that users pay a ransom in order for this data to be decrypted. However, LeakerLocker takes a different route, banking on fears of potential embarrassment.
As at the time of this writing, McAfee researchers have pinpointed two apps that carry the LeakerLocker malware – Booster & Cleaner Pro and Wallpapers Blur HD. Where the former has been downloaded between 1000 and 5000 times, the latter has been downloaded between 5000 and 10,000 times on the Google Play Store. In short, it’s possible that about 15,000 people are potentially attacked by this deadly virus, which has reportedly been in the Play Store since April.
When installing these two apps on your phone, they request lots of permissions from the user’s phone. While it’s typical for apps to request for permissions, these two go beyond their scope by demanding access to calls, messages and contacts, among others. They then lock the home screen of the infected device and demand that users pay the ransomware or face the wrath.
Despite these threats, researchers at McAfee say that the LeakerLocker doesn’t have access to everything it claims. However, given that it can still access your Google Chrome browsing history, some contact information, email address, photos from the camera app, text messages and calls, it’s still a threat to the many unsuspecting Android users out there.
The malware shows snapshots of these collected data to the victim in order to convince them that the hackers indeed have custody of the information they claim to have. Once you fall into the trap, the attackers ask you to pay the $50 via a credit card, but folks at McAfee say that you shouldn’t pay the ransom as demanded.
Google is already looking into the matter with an aim of fixing it as soon as possible.