Lincolnshire Police is warning users of Android phones to be aware of a new form of malicious software spread by text message.
Security firm Adaptivemobile has uncovered a new variant of the so-called ‘Android.Koler.A’ malware which is being called Worm.Koler and is spread by SMS message.
The message received will typically read ‘someone made a profile named -[the contact’s name]- and he/she uploaded some of your photos! Is that you?’.
This will then be followed by a ‘bit.ly’ URL. On clicking the link it will redirect the victim to a file-hosting service. Once on that site the victim is encouraged to download an application called ‘Photoviewer’.
Once this application is installed a pop-up screen will appear stating that the device has been locked by the police and the user must pay a certain amount to unblock the device.
While this is happening on the screen, in the background, an SMS message will be sent out to all contacts on the victim’s phone. The message is only sent once to make it appear more authentic.
A spokesman for Lincolnshire Police said: “It appears that this variant is currently being aimed at the US, as the pop-screens are US based e.g. purporting to be from the FBI. It is likely that UK has already or is likely to be affected, but to date the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has not received any reports detailing this type of ‘ransomware’.
“If you are unsure about any messages containing a link do not click on them, and think about contacting the sender for verification that they intended to send you the message.
“Only download application from a reputable source such as Google Play Store.”
It is recommended that any victims of this ransomware complete a manufacture reset of their device and then reinstall their apps afterwards.
This could cause a potential loss of data such as photos, if they have not already been backed up.
If the malware restricts you from getting into you phones settings, put the phone into safe mode (refer to your phones instruction manual) and remove the application.
Once this is done, perform a complete reset of your phone.
For further information please contact the Lincolnshire Police Crime Deduction Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further advice can be found at www.getsafeonline.org.