Growth in extortion malware continues, finds F-Secure report

News by Ava Fedorov

Mobile phone and PC users are facing increasing amounts of malware designed to extort money, a threat report released on Thursday by F-Secure reveals. According to the analysis, more than half of malware variants reported since July 2014 were in the 'SmsSend' family, making it the fastest growing family of mobile malware currently.

SmsSend malware infects Android devices with a premium-rate message sending trojan, generating profits for the cyber-criminals. Other ransomware that has seen an increase with mobile users are in the Koler and Slocker family of malware—both of which are identified in the report as “top threats” to Android devices.

Additionally, ransomware detection on PCs has also seen an increase, according to the report which cites the Browlock family as one of the top ten threats, as well as the Conficker/Downadup worm, the Sality virus, and the Ramnit virus. Together, these three families account for more than half of the total detections in the top ten list, the analysis shows.

“Because of virtual currencies, it's becoming a lot easier for criminals to use ransomware, making it more profitable and more useful for them,” Mikko Hypponen, F-Secure's chief research officer, commented in an email to “For end users, ransomware is today the most prominent kind of digital threat."

Hypponen continued: “I strongly believe that attacker attribution is one of the most important things an organisation can do to protect themselves…we have no hope of defending ourselves if we don't understand who the attackers are.”

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