Experts predict that in 2013, mobile devices will become the next big target for ransomware.
“Ransomware” may be a term you haven’t heard before.
This type of criminal malware, which spread around the world on PCs in 2012, encrypts some or all the files on a computer and holds them for ransom.
Sometimes the malware will pop up an on-screen message demanding a sum to decrypt the data. In other instance, strains of ransomware known as “police Trojans” pretend to come from law enforcement, notifying the user that illegal pornography has been found on the system and demanding payment of a “fine” to avoid prosecution and unlock the files.
Experts predict that in 2013, mobile devices will become the next big target for ransomware. If so, how can smartphone and tablet users avoid ransomware, and what should they do if they get it?
Prevention is the best cure
Of course, the best and often simplest defense one can muster against a problem is not to have it in the first place.
First, make sure you have a comprehensive anti-virus program installed on each mobile device. Good anti-virus software will cost money, but will be much less than the cost of replacing a phone or tablet.
Then get into the habit of regularly backing up the data on mobile devices, so that it can be recovered if criminal malware locks up the device.
There are also a few things one should never do, such as downloading data and apps from unreliable sources, which can be hotbeds ofmalicious mobile code.
“Do not visit rogue websites or load files obtained from rogue websites onto your device,” warns Joseph Steinberg, chief executive officer of Green Armor Solutions in Hackensack, N.J. “Sites offering illegal downloads of music, e-books or videos are often a source of ransomware infections.”
If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, it’s best to not “jailbreak” the device, a process that overrides Apple’s built-in controls and security features. Jailbreaking gives you access to features and apps you can’t otherwise have, such as a secure shell (SSH) interface that lets you control the device from a Mac or PC, but it also leaves you at risk for attacks you may not even be aware of.
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