Mobile ransomware attacks increased fourfold in last year

The majority of attacks were carried out by one of four groups of malware

Red skull and crossbones atop binary code

Kaspersky Lab has revealed that mobile ransomware attacks increased fourfold in 2015-2016 compared to the previous 12 months, with only four malware groups responsible for the majority of attacks.

The research firm explained the Small, Fusob, Pletor and Svpeng families carried out more than 90 per cent of malware-based attacks on Android smartphones.

Ransomware has become the fastest growing form of Android-based attack, increasing to 4.63 per cent of the total number of threats in the last 12 months, whereas in 2014-2015, it accounted for just 2.4 per cent. Although the number of computers targeted in crypto-ransomware attacks - where files on the infected machine are encrypted by the malware - has increased substantially, screen blocker-based threats have reduced. Android, however, seems to be attracting more criminals using the screen blocker technique because Android-based devices cannot resist such hacks using external hardware in the way that PCs can.

Kaspersky Lab is now predicting that other devices will be affected by such attacks, especially those that operate on Android-based systems.

"The extortion model is here to stay. Mobile ransomware emerged as a follow-up to PC ransomware and it is likely that it will be followed-up with malware targeting devices that are very different to a PC or a smartphone," Roman Unuchek, mobile security expert at Kaspersky Lab, said.

"These could be connected devices like smart watches, smart TVs, and other smart products including home and in-car entertainment systems. There are a few proof-of-concepts for some of these devices, and the appearance of actual malware targeting smart devices is only a question of time."

The countries worst affected by ransomware were Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, the report revealed.

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