New 'FLocker' ransomware targets your smart TV

While the ransomware threat is growing at an alarming rate, many consumers remain oblivious to the dangers posed by this form of malware. It is no wonder that infections are at a record level. And things will only get worse as ransomware creators target new types of devices.

Security researchers at Trend Micro have discovered a new ransomware, referred to as FLocker, that targets Android-powered smart TVs. When activated, it locks the device and asks the user to pay "a fine" to enable full functionality again. Interestingly enough, it takes the ransom in iTunes gift cards, not Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency.

FLocker is not exactly new, having been detected in the wild as early as May 2015, but it has been updated over time to become more effective and avoid being detected. Trend Micro says that it has found over 7,000 versions of it, 1,200 of which popped up in April.

This is the latest version, and it poses as US Cyber Police "or another law enforcement agency". Victims are told they have committed a crime, and that they have to pay $200 in iTunes gift cards as a fine. However, if FLocker finds that they are located in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Russia or Ukraine it will deactivate itself.

FLocker does not activate itself, as it needs to be granted admin privileges. In case that does not happen, it will "freeze the screen faking a system update". However, when successful in its attempt, it will take control of the device, showing a webpage in full screen asking the victims to pay.

If you've fallen victim to FLocker then Trend Micro recommends contacting your smart TV's vendor. More knowledgeable users, who can enable ADB debugging, can kill the ransomware's process with the "PM clear %pkg%" command and uninstall the ransomware app.