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Two-thirds of Android users vulnerable to web history sniff ransomware

Crooks want you to pay up on pain of severe embarrassment – and more

Miscreants have put together an especially pernicious strain of Android ransomware that threatens to bare your browsing history.

The so-called Lockdroid ransomware brandishes overlaid popups in order to trick marks into allowing the malicious code to gain admin privileges on targeted devices.

The clickjacking ruse works on devices running versions of Android prior to 5.0 (Lollipop), leaving an estimated two in three Android smartphone users at risk.

Once installed, the malware encrypts files before demanding a ransom. It posts up a fake message supposedly from the US Department of Justice saying that the mobile device has been locked after visiting sites containing unsavoury content but it can be unlocked after paying a “fine”, which in reality is an extortionate bribe.

There’s more than just the locked-up data at stake for any victims. Lockdroid snaffles a user's browsing history and contacts list, before threatening to expose a victim's potentially embarrassing browsing history by forwarding it to their contacts.

Lockdroid poses as a smut surfing app called Porn O’ Mania. The malicious app is not found on Google Play and may be downloaded from third-party app stores, forums, or torrent sites, according to Symantec.

Thanks to the admin rights privileges it seeks to gain, Lockdroid is also capable of locking the device, changing the device PIN, and deleting user data through a factory reset.

This extended spectrum of aggressive extortion tactics have been put into play by crooks as part of attempts to strong-arm victims into paying up.

A full writeup of the threat – including screenshots – can be found in a blog post by Symantec here. ®

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