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UK hit by sudden increase in Android ransomware

Ransomware, the type of malware that forces its victims to pay a ransom through certain online payment methods in order to grant access to their systems, has seen a steady growth in the UK this year, a report says.

In a report by antivirus software provider Bitdefender (opens in new tab), it says that approximately 32 per cent of all reported malware during the month of May was Android ransomware, with the company anticipating that this number will continue to grow in the next twelve months.

Bitdefender says that in the early months of 2015, the percentage of malware was 24 per cent, meaning a sudden spike occurred. It translates into an increased interest for cybercriminals for generating revenue by targeting the UK.

Android is seen as a potent platform for ransomware, as shipments of Android-powered devices exceeded one million in 2014.

One of the most profitable malware strains is Cryptowall, whose ransomware fees start from $500 (£320).

“Aggressive and persistent malware doesn’t come out of nowhere,” states Catalin Cosoi, Chief Security Strategist at Bitdefender. “Developing malware takes pretty much the same form as developing software; it takes many iterations and bug fixes until you end up with a really stable build that can perform as expected. The same goes for Android ransomware.”

“At Bitdefender, we’ve been seeing Android ransomware samples for the better part of a year now. At first they had pretty limited capabilities – they were mostly scaring users into thinking they were infected by displaying an easily removable pop-up that contained the same classic message as PC ransomware. It only took limited technical knowhow to remove both the pop-up and the application and users were quick to dispose of them.”

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.