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Shocking Smartphone Ransom Scam

Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large

Christian Money.com has published a regular flow of articles here lately on the subject of Internet security, and hacking, more specifically. Not only is the subject more important than ever, but it seems as though hacking efforts have become more frequent than ever. Just recently, a friend of mine was the target of a specific, deliberate hacking attempt against all of his devices, and we’re hearing a lot now about smartphones being the new “favorite” targets of hackers, as more people spend more of their “Internet time” using their phones as the access devices.

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Now comes word of an app…a porn app, in this case…that is causing big problems for the people who’ve downloaded it; it seems that this app is not a genuine app at all, but a cleverly-disguised piece of malware that takes control of the phones of those who download it. Those who download “Adult Player” will find themselves locked out of their phones...but it goes further: the malware also takes control of the “selfie” camera, takes a picture of the user, and then displays the picture, along with a ransom note, demanding $500 in order for the owner to regain control of his phone. This kind of attack is becoming more prevalent, and a new term has been coined for the type of malware it uses: “ransomware.” With ransomware, the malware takes control of your phone, locks it, and demands payment to unlock it, as is the case with Adult Player.

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Again, Adult Player is a porn app, and it is not available through the Google Play store, so in order to access this specific app, one must not only be looking for an app that allows for the viewing of pornography, but it must be accessed from an illegitimate app platform. However, the point here, for our purposes, is not the fact that this is a porn app, but that your smartphone is becoming increasingly vulnerable to bizarre, even dangerous, malware attacks.

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How do you protect against this stuff? Admittedly, it’s getting more difficult to assure yourself of hack-free phone use, but when it comes to smartphones, remember that any apps you do download should come from the Google Play store; adhering to that “rule” is a good start to staying safe. You can also look into anti-virus software for your phone, but opinions vary on its effectiveness; it wouldn’t hurt to call your cell phone service provider, though, to find out what’s available – the technologies are always evolving.

Something else you can do is limit the Internet use of your phone, and otherwise refrain from allowing your phone to become a repository of a lot of sensitive information. How practical is that in this day and age? Only you can decide that on behalf of yourself and your own situation, but there is no question that your little cell phone is becoming a much bigger security risk to you than you likely ever thought imaginable.    

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