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Android 'Porn App' Secretly Snaps Photos, Blackmails Users

Forget nuclear facility sabotage; ignore stock market glitches; the world of cyber-threats just got serious. As The Telegraph reports, an Android app virus seduces users by promising porn but takes compromising photos of them to use as blackmail. The 'ransomware' demands a ransom of $500 (paid via PayPal) and warns "your device has been blocked for safety reasons listed below. All your files are encrypted. You are accused of viewing/storage and/or dissemination of banned pornography."

 

As The Telegraph reports,

American security firm Zscaler found that "Adult Player" lures victims by promising pornographic video.

 

When the victim starts using it, the app silently takes a compromising photo of the victim, which is then displayed on the screen, along with a ransom message.

 

The app demands a ransom of $500 (£326) to be paid via PayPal.

 

Once the app has taken its photo of the user, it sends their mobile device and operating system information to a remote server, where a personalised ransom note is created. It looks something like this:

 

 

The red warning note claims “Your device has been blocked for safety reasons listed below. All your files are encrypted. You are accused of viewing/storage and/or dissemination of banned pornography (child pornography/zoophilia/rape etc.)”

 

It then asks for “fine” to be paid. The ransom screen is designed to stay persistent even if you reboot your phone. It does not allow you to operate your device and keeps the screen active with ransom message.

Just in case you need to know how to avoid this kind of scam - asking for a friend - Zscaler explains there is a way to get rid of the malicious software without paying up.

The phone should be booted up in safe mode, where - once in device administrator mode - the app can be selected and disabled.

 

To avoid becoming a victim of such ransomware, you can stay safe by downloading apps only from trusted app stores, like Google Play. This can be enforced by unchecking the option of "Unknown Sources" under the "Security" settings of your device.

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Given the populist rhetoric spewing from the presidential candidates (and urge to capture the younger demographic's vote), this would seem like a slam-dunk for any administration's cyber-crime unit.