Cybersecurity experts are warning the public about a new Android ransomware threat making the rounds on the internet in the guise of Reddit porn.

Researchers at IT security company ESET discovered a new malicious malware victimizing people on Reddit and other online forums.

Malicious .APKs

Known as Android/Filecoder.C, the ransomware often disguises itself as QR codes or HTML links that lead to pornographic content such as "sex simulation" VR apps. However, once an unsuspecting forum user clicks on the link, the infected .APK would immediately install ransomware into the device.

In most cases, the ransomwa1re would even spread itself to other people on the user's contact list through SMS messaging. The text would activate an encryption program that would lock out users from virtually every file on their devices. To regain control of the device, victims would have to pay a ransom in the form of Bitcoins.

Cybersecurity website Welivesecurity said the ransom amount could be somewhere between $90 to $190, based on the current value of Bitcoins at the time of the cyber attack.

Experts believes Android/Filecoder.C may have been active on the web as early as July 12.

The people behind the ransomware also tried to hide the program using the URL shortener bit.ly. The dubious URL has already accumulated 59 clicks at the time the engineers reported about the threat.

Android/Filecoder.C is also capable of masking itself in 42 different languages in order to reach a wider audience. The program chooses the language that suits its intended victim, even using their own name to personalize the text message.

Welivesecurity confirmed that the ransomware will not be able to decrypt affected files if the app is removed from devices. However, its research team was not able to find any indication in the program's code to prove that encrypted data will be deleted after 72 hours.

How To Keep Devices Safe

To avoid getting victimized by the Android/Filecoder.C ransomware, experts advise users to do the following steps:

  • Make sure that devices are kept up to date. It is ideal to set software to automatically download and install patches and updates to stay protected from different cyber threats.
  • Download programs only from Google Play or other reputable app stores to minimize the possibility of getting malicious apps.
  • Before downloading apps, make sure to check their ratings or reviews from other users. Pay attention to any negative comments from legitimate users to find out if the app is reliable or not. Some cyber criminals post positive feedback on review sites to mislead users.
  • Double check the permission requests made by apps. If the request does not seem to match the supposed functions of the app, the program should not be installed.
  • Always have a reliable and reputable mobile security solution on devices to help keep them safe from cyber attacks.
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