Ransomware isn’t a new threat and has been rampant for more than a decade, and with the boom in the smartphone tech, companies are taking additional steps to secure their users from falling prey to attackers who hold people ransom.
Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts media, document and other files on the target device and access to those files is only granted once the attacker’s ransom demands are met.
Google has built-in necessary security features into Android to save you from being held ransom.
Currently, there are two types of ransomware — one which locks certain files on a computer and other which locks the entire system. The latter is mostly found on smartphones.
Although early cases of ransomware date back to 2005, its threat on smartphones is quite recent. Google has loaded its latest Android Nougat operating system with features that help protect you.
“Since 2015, less than 0.00001 percent of installations from Google Play, and less than .01 percent of installations from sources other than Google Play were categorised as ransomware. That’s less than the odds of getting struck by lightning twice in your lifetime,” Jason Woloz, senior Program Manager, Android Security wrote in a blog post.
Android’s Safety Features
Google already analyses the legitimacy of apps before they go up on the Play Store via its security system and filters out any potentially harmful applications (PHAs).
In addition to that, Android OS includes Application Sandbox technology, which ensures that an app can not use data that is being stored by another app. Per se, if your device is infected with a fraudulent ransomware app, it won’t be able to access the data of other apps or even the system resources.
Android Nougat Safety Features
In addition to the aforementioned Android security feature, the latest Android OS gets three more features to protect against ransomware.
- Safety Blinders have been implemented as an additional security layer between apps which ensures that none of the apps can identify if some other app is active or not.
- Lockscreen Password has to be active prior to the installation of ransomware containing app. Setting up your PIN/Patter/Passcode before a harmful app is installed ensure that the app doesn’t misuse system permission to change the password and lock you out of the device.
- Android Nougat has been designed to protect you from Clickjacking — a technique which would hide the harmful link behind a permission dialogue box. Clicking on these sneaky links can give the attacker access to your device.
As mentioned before, ransomware on Android is still not as common, but Google implementing these security features is a good sign because you never know when apps with nefarious purpose start making their way into your device — it’s better to be safe than sorry.