Ransomware doesn’t only target desktop and laptop computers, but some cell phones as well, according to internet security experts.
“We’ve seen Ransomware start to be developed for Android mobile devices,” said Eric Klonowski, Senior Advanced Threat Research Analyst at the anti-virus company Webroot. “All this is a major concern.”
Mobile phone ransomware looks very similar to what you might see on a computer.
A popup message appears on the screen demanding money, usually hundreds of dollars.
In one example Klonowski provided, the popup image says $200 is required to “unlock your device.”
One of the most common types of ransomware on the mobile phone is called Simplelocker.
“This first appeared around 2014 and has matured since then,” he said.
Klonowski calls the problem serious.
“There are pictures of your family. Maybe that vacation trip that you took in 2015 that you want for the rest of your life,” he said. “Without paying the ransom, there's a possibility that you'll never get those photos.”
In most cases, hackers will give a user back the ability to access data after the ransom is paid.
Ransomware has not shown up on iPhones yet, Klonowski says.
“It’s highly unlikely that we will see iPhone ransomware sneak through the app store. In addition to reviewing all apps, Apple has a number of security measures in place that prevent apps from interacting with other apps or your pictures, data, etc. while installed,” he said. “Android phones also have similar security measures, but the user can often be coerced to disable it. Successful iPhone ransomware would require a very sophisticated attack on an unprecedented scale.”