FLocker Ransomware Attacking Smart TVs

FLocker, a combination of the words Frantic Locker, is a specific piece of ransomware that was first found back in April of 2015. Since then, security experts at Trend Micro have found 7,000 variants on it, as the hacker who created it keeps writing new versions in order to continue attacking consumers.

The first thing to understand is what ransomware means. Whether it’s your Android phone (as FLocker goes after) or a hospital’s entire network, ransomware is malicious software that a hacker infects your tech with, then promises to remove if you pay the ransom.

In the recent wave of hospital attacks, experts and hackers alike realized that the hospitals would usually pay up; the threat of having their patient records released online, coupled with the inability to continue providing critical care to deathly ill patients, often made the ransom seem like small potatoes compared to the potential HIPAA violation fines and the patient lawsuits.

Next, it’s important to know that our behavior as consumers may actually contribute to the threat of ransomware and viruses. Typically, when we find a platform we like—such as Apple or Android products—we tend to stick with that platform. That’s why a consumer might own both an iPhone and an iPad, or an Android phone and an Android smart TV. That’s been a huge factor in the spread of FLocker to televisions. People whose phone accounts were compromised may have found their smart TVs locked because FLocker is meant to work that way.

In a “funny, not funny” twist, FLocker’s invasion of some brands of smart TVs results in a lock screen with a dire warning: you’re in trouble with the government. Through what looks like a very official screen, you’re told that your internet activity has been monitored and found to be illegal. The only way to unlock your TV and clear the charges is to pay the $200 fine. Of course, that’s not how the legal system works, and the government doesn’t actually accept payment for anything in the form of iTunes gift cards, which is what the screen demands.

So what do you if your phone or TV (or both) falls victim to FLocker or other forms of ransomware? You can start by reaching out to the manufacturer of your device for assistance. If you’re feeling a little more tech savvy, you can read up on these instructions and address removing the virus yourself. Of course, prevention is always one of the best courses of action when it comes to malicious software, so make sure to secure your technology and your network with strong protocols.

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