The adoption rate of mobile devices continues to soar, with Android leading the way. The open-source operating system that is led by Google is now found on more than half of all smartphones. This massive user base has addressed the attention of cybercriminals, who have begun to double down on their efforts to illegally obtain personal information from Android owners. While most mobile malware is found in countries like Russia and China, users from Europe and the United States are not completely immune.
There are a few simple steps you can take to avoid getting your data locked up in an encrypted jail.
- App source
Only download apps from trustworthy sources like the Google Play Store. Be wary of any site that allows you to download paid apps for free.
- App permissions
Even when downloading from the Google Play Store you need to be careful. Check the permissions the app requests for. Often, apps that include malware will ask for a lot of permissions so that they can quickly gain control of all of your phone's data.
Google includes numerous settings in the Android operating system that can prevent malicious attacks. Devices running Android 2.2 or higher, which essentially means almost all Android devices, have access to Google's malware scanner. Prior to installing an application, you downloaded outside of the Play store, Google will scan the app and warn you of any potential threats.
- Software updates
While this may not be an option for most users, if there is an update for your device make sure you download and install it. Manufacturers, carriers, and Google are constantly pushing out updates with bug fixes, enhancements, and new features that can make your device more secure.
- Antivirus apps
The Google Play store is also home to hundreds of antivirus apps that can offer an extra layer of protection. Companies like Avast, AVG, BitDefender, Kaspersky, Sophos, Symantec (Norton), and TrendMicro have long established and histories as some of the most trusted brands in the industry.
- Back up your data
Keep your device backed up. You can do this:
- On your computer.
- Using a cloud based back up service like Google Drive.
- On a portable hard disk like a USB pen drive.
Tips on Android ransomware removal
The instructions provided below should help you to remove Android ransomware as well:
Reboot your phone into Safe Mode:
- Find the power button and then press it for a few seconds until you see a menu. Click Power off.
- Once you receive a dialog window that suggests you to reboot your Android to Safe Mode, select this option and press OK.
- If this did not work for you, just turn off your device and then turn it on. Once it becomes active, try pressing and holding Menu, Volume Down, Volume Up or both these buttons together to see Safe Mode.
Uninstall malicious and / or any suspicious and unknown apps:
- When in Safe Mode, go to Settings. Then, click on Apps or Application manager (this may differ depending on your device).
- Here, look for the previously-mentioned suspicious app (s) and uninstall them all.
Modern Malware threats are evolving all the time but taking these steps will make it much harder for hackers to gain control of your data. Most of the time cyber criminals are looking to take advantage of silly mistakes that people are making every day. Stay vigilant and 99% of the time you'll stay safe!