Android ransomware up by more than 50 percent, ESET research finds

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Graph of Android ransomware detection

IT security company ESET today unveiled new research reporting a more than 50 percent increase in the detection of Android ransomware in 2016. This is historically the highest number of attempts to penetrate devices, with a particularly strong peak in the first half of 2016, and the malware often masquerades as applications.

ESET presents the latest annual data based on its LiveGrid® technology in the white paper “Trends in Android Ransomware.” Findings are released just ahead of Mobile World Congress taking place in Barcelona from February 27 – March 2, 2017, where ESET CTO Juraj Malcho will be discussing the research and mobile malware trends at the show. 

“Altogether we saw an increase in Android malware detection by around 20 percent, with ransomware on this platform growing at an even faster rate,” says Malcho. “Even as ESET observed the largest spike in the first half of 2016, we are nowhere near saying that this threat will disappear anytime soon.”

Authors of lock-screen and the file-encrypting “crypto-ransomware” types have used the past 12 months to copycat effective techniques from desktop malware. They have also developed their own sophisticated methods specifically targeting Android devices.

In addition to the most prevalent scare tactics used by lock-screen “police ransomware,” cybercriminals have been putting increased effort into keeping a low profile by encrypting and burying the malicious payload deeper into infected apps.

In 2015, ESET observed that the focus of Android ransomware operators shifted from Eastern European to U.S. mobile users. In 2016 attackers also showed a growing interest in the Asian market.

“Ransomware for Android is now a full-scale global threat,” adds Malcho.

To review the full findings and detailed “Trends in Android Ransomware” whitepaper, including a detailed history and chronology of Android Ransomware, please download the full report here.

Heading to Mobile World Congress? Please also join us for our Mobile World Congress Networking Event, Tuesday, February 28, 2017 from 4 – 8 PM at Networking Garden 3/5. Details here.

About ESET

For 30 years, ESET® has been developing industry-leading IT security software and services for businesses and consumers worldwide. With solutions ranging from endpoint and mobile security, to encryption and two-factor authentication, ESET’s high-performing, easy-to-use products give consumers and businesses the peace of mind to enjoy the full potential of their technology. ESET unobtrusively protects and monitors 24/7, updating defenses in real-time to keep users safe and businesses running without interruption. Evolving threats require an evolving IT security company. Backed by R&D centers worldwide, ESET was the first IT security company to earn 100 Virus Bulletin VB100 awards, identifying every single “in-the-wild” malware without interruption since 2003. For more information visit or follow us on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter.

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