Ransomware, the threat that has affected millions of computer users around the world, has found its way to the smartphone. Dubbed LeakerLocker, the latest threat was discovered by McAfee, the online security firm, and is affecting Android users if they download specific applications from the Google Play Store.
What makes this malware unique, is that unlike its counterparts, it does not encrypt user files before demanding payment for a decryption key. Instead, it tries to extort $50 in Bitcoin from the victim, and in return, the criminals say that they will not spread private information - harvested from the user's device - onto the internet. This is also known as 'doxxing'.
Doxxing is a relatively new phenomenon that gained notoriety after the GamerGate saga, where an individual's information - such as their Social Security number and banking details - is posted online as a way to ruin their reputation or do financial harm.
It is unusual for ransomware to demand money as protection for private information, and users might be more inclined to pay for this security over the perceived risk, instead of just replacing the device or hard drive.
McAfee has identified the applications that carry the threat in the Google Play Store, namely: Wallpapers Blur HD, and Booster & Cleaner Pro. These apps have already been downloaded several thousand times according to the security firm, with reviews mostly complaining about why the apps require access to their contacts and such.
As for recommendations, the firm suggests that affected users do not pay the ransom as it exacerbates the problem. Also, make sure that an application does not request an unusual amount of access for its perceived use case. According to the firm, they have reported it to Google and it is being investigated.