Android ransomware demanding $300 from porn site visitors

Koler Trojan looks like BaDoink app

Security researchers this week issued warnings about ransomware called Koler that demands $300 from Android users who bite on a fake app typically found on porn sites.

The phony BaDoink streaming app, which contains the Koler Trojan, is up on porn sites around the world, says Armando Orozco, senior malware intelligence analyst for Malwarebytes. The company gives credit to a researcher working under the name Kafeine for the discovery of the Android ransomware.

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Koler

Screen shot of Koler Android ransomware demanding the victim pay up to free up the Android device

When someone downloads the fake BaDoink app to an Android device, it locks the screen via a browser page and typically tells the victim that due to “illegitimate porn,” they have to pay $300 to unlock the device, such as through a PayPal account.

For the Koler app to take over the device, the user has to install the program and run it, Orozco points out. The ransomware, which sometimes presents the seal of the FBI, keeps coming back on the Android device no matter what the user does to move off the ransomware’s browser page demanding the money.  

It’s possible to get rid of Koler through Android’s safe-boot process, though it’s a bit involved, says Orozco. Up-to-date anti-malware would also be expected to block Koler.

According to Malwarebytes, Koler isn’t the first ransomware to hit Android.

There’s a long tradition of using porn as a lure to trick individuals into downloading malware to PCs, and Koler is just an example of this ruse aimed at subverting mobile devices. “It comes with the territory,” says Orozco.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail: emessmer@nww.com

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