Ransomware could lock you out of your smartphones

What are your options if your phone does not have enough storage space? (Getty Images)

Ransomware, the tool used by hackers to lock you out of your computers and demand ransom to restore access, is gaining prominence and might soon do the same to your smartphones.

A warning issued by Symantec says that the hackers are not only able to attack smartphones and tablets but can even encrypt the files on the mobile devices.

The warning is significant as it takes the threat to a totally different level, especially as smartphones and tablets have been increasingly used to store crucial personal and enterprise level documents.

“The bad guys know that many people these days use smartphones and tablets to surf the net and they’ve realized that there is a huge opportunity to make money from this. Unfortunately, ransomware for mobile devices is becoming more common and there are now plenty of threats that can lock your smartphone or tablet or even encrypt the files stored on these devices,” Symantec says in its recent warning.

Ransomware is malware that holds the victim’s device be it a computer or a mobile device to ransom, either by restricting access, by locking the desktop or by encrypting the user’s files. The malware then displays a ransom note, often claiming to be from the police, or some other type of law enforcement agency.

According to Symantec, it is the spam email attachments and malicious websites that route ransomware into the devices but also advises users to not panic and never pay ransom.

With Internet of Things (IOT) widely expanding to cover your entire home and smart homes fast becoming a reality with everything from doors, windows, appliances and everything else connected, there is an increasing risk of hackers attacking your very home and even locking you out of your own house.

If a user can access his door with the safety lock system stored in the cloud, it is not very difficult for a hacker to get access to the same system and lock you out.

The industry has been working on developing security mechanisms to prevent a breach, last year hackers managed to get into several homes connected through wifi enabled cameras and started live broadcasting events. In a separate incident security experts also found that hackers had managed to gain access to several connected appliances and send messages from these devices.

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