Mobile ransomware targets Canadian porn viewers

Canadian malware victims no longer have to put up with fake FBI notices telling them that they've been caught trying to download illegal content and now have to pay a fine.

The latest variety of the Koler Android ransomware has been localized, and is smart enough to show Canadians a warning message purporting to be from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, according to a report by mobile security company Appthority.

"This is the first one that we've seen specifically targeting Canadian citizens," said Domingo Guerra, Appthority's president and founder.

According to the company, the criminals either set up dummy or clone websites pretending to offer pornography, or put up ads on smaller, niche pornography sites.

After users arrive, they are tricked into thinking that they are downloading a video viewer for their mobile device, but are actually installing malware specific to the region they are from.

The criminals then tell the users that their phones are locked until they pay a fine, or threaten to tell all their contacts that they have been viewing porn.

"This plays not just on the security aspect, but the shame of being caught," said Guerra.

Because of the potential embarrassment, users are reluctant to go to the authorities -- or to company IT departments -- if they have been infected.

Senior corporate executives are particularly vulnerable, said Guerra.

The criminals typically demand payment in the form of gift cards, something that legitimate law enforcement agencies would never do.

That does make users suspicious, Guerra said. "But they're embarrassed because it's a pornography site, so they don't want to tell anyone."

[ Ransomware: Pay it or fight it? ]

The fines started out at around $100, but have recently grown to around $500, he said.

Meanwhile, the criminals themselves are actually not telling the truth about the phone being locked, or about being able to send emails or text messages to the user's contact list.

"Most of the time there is a way to unlock it without paying the ransom," he said. "You boot the phone in safe mode, delete the app, then reset the phone."

And the malware does not actually have the capability to send out messages, he added.

The malware might also say that files have been encrypted.

"They claim to do that, but they actually don't," Guerra said. "It was just a trick."

He suggests that enterprises address the issue by educating employees about only downloading apps from the official app stores -- and where to turn for help if something does happen.

But part of the problem is that Google has been cleaning up its app store.

"Google Play doesn't allow adult content or pornography," he said. "So folks have to go to third-party sites. It's a part of the market that's not being addressed by Google."

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securitymobile securitybecaAppthorityRoyal Canadian Mounted Policefbi

More about FBIGoogle

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Maria Korolov

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place