Experts Warn of Mobile Ransomware Deluge on Social Media

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Security experts have warned social media users to be prepared for an increase in 'atrocity videos' hiding malware on their favorite platforms and the appearance of mobile ransomware in 2015.

Romanian security vendor Bitdefender warned users that cyber-criminals are likely to ramp up their activity on social channels next year in a bid to drive revenue.

It said that although the takedown of the Zeus botnet in June largely marginalized infamous ransomware Cryptolocker, variants of the threat are appearing on new channels.

Users should remain highly skeptical of any unsolicited messages on social media, especially ones accusing them of distributing child pornography or other crimes, which ransomware peddlers often spread to trick users into downloading malware.

Bitdefender chief security strategist Catalin Cosoi urged users to remain vigilant.

"It’s important to keep your security software updated. With so many zero-day threats, botnets, and new ransomware variants, the only way to stay safe is to install a reputable security solution on all internet-connected devices,” he told Infosecurity

“Keeping all other software up-to-date also helps minimize vulnerabilities on your system that scammers can exploit. Needless to say, paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee that cyber-criminals will unlock the computer. The only secure option is to permanently remove the malicious files from the system.”

Another threat to watch out for in 2015 is the tactic used by some cyber-criminals of hiding trojans behind salacious or shocking videos on social media.

It’s an MO uncovered by Bitdefender in a report earlier this year.

“Like and share schemes using horrendous images, such as maimed animals, suffering children, and tortured women, now account for almost 1% of all scams,” Cosoi said at the time.

Malvertising is also on the rise and set to deluge social media in 2015, Bitdefender claimed. What’s more, it’s likely to move away from simple click fraud to more dangerous strains.

Cosoi claimed social media platform providers could be quicker at removing fake profiles, spam and malware.

"Though many have started to integrate antivirus solutions and hired qualified teams of security experts, there is always room for cyber-criminals," he added. "We expect stronger ‘team work’ between social networks, users and the IT security industry in the years to come."

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