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New Ransomware Locks Smart TVs
A new version of the FLocker ransomware is able to infect and lock both Android mobile devices as well as Android smart TVs. Ransomware such as FLocker blocks users from accessing their devices, demanding that a ransom is paid to cybercriminals to remove the restriction. In this case, the original variant of FLocker was first reported in May 2015 and has been altered thousands of times to avoid detection. Android TV is a smart TV platform developed by Google. It is available as a built-in component of smart TVs as well as a stand-alone digital media player.
According to Trend Micro, the latest version of FLocker locks the user’s mobile Android device or smart TV and impersonates a non-existent authority (the “US Cyber Police”) or another law enforcement agency. “It accuses potential victims of crimes they didn’t commit. Then, it demands $200 worth of iTunes gift cards” as ransom. Typically ransomware demands such payments to be made anonymously through Bitcoin, but iTunes gift card codes can be traded through online marketplaces for Bitcoin and other currency.
Pretending to lock a user’s computer because of a purported crime and claiming to be the “US Cyber Police” is typical of ransomware. Other forms of popular ransomware lock users’ computers claiming to be Interpol or the FBI and accusing them of non-existent crimes for which a ransom is demanded.
FLocker is region-specific and doesn’t attack devices located in places such as Bulgaria, Hungary, Russia or the Ukraine. According to the researchers, if your Android Smart TV becomes infected with the FLocker ransomware, it’s best practice to first contact the device vendor to seek out a solution. Mobile users should avoid clicking links from unfamiliar contacts and avoid unknown websites.