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Ransomware alert: Microsoft has a warning for all Android phone users

Once in the phone, MalLocker.B prevents the user from accessing the phone screen. Unlike other ransomwares, MalLocker.B does not encrypt the device.
Once in the phone, MalLocker.B prevents the user from accessing the phone screen. Unlike other ransomwares, MalLocker.B does not encrypt the device. (Pixabay)

Microsoft has warned all Android phone users about a new ransomware that’s targeting their smartphones.

Attention Android users, Microsoft has found a new ransomware that is targeting Android smartphones and has issued an alert about it. According to reports, this ransomware is called MalLocker.B and is spreading to Android phones via online forums and websites.

MalLocker.B is hidden inside malicious Android apps in most cases so it is very important to be careful when you are downloading apps from websites.

So what does MalLocker.B do once it’s on your phone?

Once in the phone, MalLocker.B prevents the user from accessing the phone screen. Unlike other ransomware, MalLocker.B does not encrypt the device. Instead it freezes the phone screen and displays a message that claims to be from a law enforcement agency and asks for a fine to unlock the screen.

MalLocker.B takes advantage of the ‘call’ notification, according to reports, and when users get an incoming call, the ransomware gets activated. And when the user presses the home button or the recent app button, the screen immediately gets locked and you see the message about the fine.

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Microsoft explained that as is the case with most Android ransomware, MalLocker.B does not block access to files by encrypting anything. It just blocks access to the screen that appears over every other window in a way that users can do nothing, Microsoft explained. The ransom note users can see on the screen contain threats and instructions to pay the ransom.

Reports suggest that the code of the malware is quite simple and can spread easily to multiple phones.

How do you avoid it?

Android users are being recommended to avoid downloading apps from unknown sources and websites. If you need an app, make sure you download it from the Play Store or a verified source.

While there is no evidence of the ransomware stealing personal information yet, what MalLocker.B surely does is that it makes your smartphone virtually useless by freezing your screen. This automatically leads to people being forced to pay up to get their phone access back.

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“This new mobile ransomware variant is an important discovery because the malware exhibits behaviors that have not been seen before and could open doors for other malware to follow,” Microsoft added.

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