Crooks Kidnap Man and Hold Him Ransom for iPhone and $300

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Two men have been arrested after allegedly kidnapping a man and then asking him to hand over his iPhone in return for freedom, according to the Coloradoan. Fort Collins police took action after 39-year old Daniel Cordova and 22-year-old Michael Carrillo approached an innocent man and woman on March 1st. Law enforcement officials claim that the crooks […]
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Cash For Apps: Make money with android app

How we stop fraudulent apps from holding you ransom

Recently we shared our 2016 Android Security Year in Review, which looks at how we protect Android users and their data. Today, we’re taking a closer look at how we shield people from a rare—but particularly disruptive—potentially harmful app (PHA) known as ransomware. We’ve long had protections from ransomware in Android, and we added new ones in Nougat as well.

Ransomware is a type of app that restricts access to your device until a sum of money is paid. Ransomware usually presents itself in one of two forms: apps that restrict access to your device and then demand payment to regain access to the device, or apps that encrypt data on the device’s external storage (such as an SD card) and then demand payment to decrypt your data. To make the scam more convincing, fraudsters sometimes pretend to be from a credible law enforcement agency and accuse you of doing something illegal so you’re more likely to pay.

Although ransomware has begun to target mobile devices, it’s still rare: Since 2015, less than 0.00001 percent of installations from Google Play, and less than .01 percent of installations from sources other  than Google Play, were categorized as ransomware.  (That’s less than the odds of getting struck by lightning twice in your lifetime!).

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Some examples of popular ransomware

And Android users have long been protected from ransomware. Our Google Play policies strictly prohibit apps that contain it, and if we ever detect these scams, we rapidly take action. Verify Apps, our security system that analyzes apps before they are installed and then regularly checks more than 400 million devices and 6 billion apps everyday for PHAs, is another safeguard. And Application Sandboxing, a technology that forces each app to operate independently of others, provides another layer of defense. Sandboxes require apps to mutually consent to sharing data, a protection which limits ransomware’s ability to access sensitive information like a contact list from another app.

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Ransomware protections in Android Nougat

With the release of Android 7.0 Nougat, we added to existing defenses against ransomware, and also made some changes to address some of the newer tactics of ransomware scams. Here are a few examples:

  • Safety blinders: Apps can no longer see which other apps are active. That means scammy ones can’t see what other apps are doing—and can’t inform their attacks based on activity.
  • Even stronger locks: If you set a lockscreen PIN prior to installing ransomware, ransomware can’t misuse your device’s permissions to change your PIN and lock you out.
  • Whacking clickjacking: “Clickjacking” tricks people into clicking something, often by obscuring permission dialogs behind other windows. You’re now protected from ransomware attacks that use this tactic to sneakily gain control of a device.

Protecting your data and device from ransomware

Even with all the safeguards we’ve built into Android and Google Play to protect you from ransomware, there are still a few things that you can do to keep your device safe.

  1. Only download apps from a trustworthy source, such as Google Play.
  2. Ensure Verify Apps is enabled.
  3. Install security updates and always ensure your device is updated to the latest version to get the best security protection.
  4. Back up your device.
  5. Be cautious. Take a moment to read reviews and other information about apps before installing, to make sure you download the app you’re looking for.

If you accidentally install ransomware on your phone, you have a few options. First, you can try to boot into safe mode. Starting your device in safe mode means your device only has the original software and apps that came with it. If an app is misbehaving but the issues go away in safe mode, the problem is probably caused by a third-party app downloaded on your device. If you can boot into safe mode, try to uninstall the app and then reboot the device. On a Pixel, you can get into safe mode with a keyboard combination that PHAs can’t touch.

If safe mode doesn’t work, then you might have to reset your phone to factory settings. Many devices running Android allow you to remove dangerous apps by resetting it to factory settings (also referred to as formatting the device, or doing a “hard reset”). This should be your last resort, but if you’ve backed up your files, resetting your device should be easy. Check with your carrier or device manufacturer for instructions on how to reset your phone.

Ransomware on Android is exceedingly rare. Still, we’ve implemented lots of new protections in Nougat, and we continue to improve on the defenses that have long been in place. Those protections, along with extra vigilance about how you download your apps, will help keep you and your device secure.


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Cryptocurrency expert kidnapped for $1 million bitcoin ransom

On Tuesday, cryptocurrency expert Pavel Lerner was snatched by an armed gang wearing ski masks near his office in Ukraine. It was a kidnap-for-ransom scheme, but with a high-tech twist: instead of asking for easily traceable paper money, the kidnappe…
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Hackers Are Remotely Locking Macs to Hold Them Ransom

Hackers are apparently remotely locking certain Macs and demanding affected users pay a ransom to unlock their computers, according to a string of recent reports.

The vulnerability seems to work like this: if an attacker has access to user’s Apple ID and password, they can use the Find My iPhone feature on iCloud.com to remotely “lock” a Mac with a passcode. That passcode is set by the hackers themselves, effectively “bricking” a device for users. The vulnerability works even when two-factor authentication is turned on, since Apple doesn’t require it for Find My iPhone — presumably for cases when a user’s primary device is the one that’s gone missing.

In many cases, affected users are also receiving messages from the attackers that demand they pay a fee to unlock their devices. Overall, the attacks don’t seem like a coordinated or widespread operation. More likely, these attacks are being performed by lone hackers.

For example, the Bitcoin wallets that the attackers are using seem individual to each case. In one of the reports, the wallet hasn’t received any transactions, in another case, a separate wallet has only received one, according to blockchain records.

As for how the attackers got their hands on the iCloud login and password data, there’s currently no evidence to suggest it was through a breach of Apple’s servers. More likely, the hackers found the usernames and passwords from breaches of other sites and third-party services. In many cases, the affected users probably used the same email address, username and password across multiple accounts.

The attacks seem relatively few and far between currently, but there are still enough cases to warrant concern for Mac and iOS users. One of the earliest reports seems to stretch back to early September, but the particular tactic has probably been used by hackers for quite some time.

How to Avoid Being Hacked

  • To prevent becoming a victim of this hack, you should change your Apple ID password — particularly if it’s a password you’ve used on other websites or services.
  • It might also be smart to enable two-factor authentication if it isn’t enabled already.
  • You can also check if your login information has been obtained by hackers in a breach via HaveIBeenPwned.com.
  • It’s best to use separate and distinct passwords for each and every website and service you use. Platforms like 1Password and iCloud Keychain are great tools for generating and storing passwords.
  • At the very least, try to come up with a unique and secure password for your Apple account.

If your Mac has been locked, the smartest course of action is to contact Apple Support. In many cases, impacted Mac devices will need to be wiped or restored from backup to remove the remote lock — though Apple staff can help you find the best way to go about getting your device fixed.

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Leakers’ ransom video to HBO dismisses FBI ‘shoe makers’ and makes a House of Cards joke

HBO is the latest victim of a security breach that, so far, has resulted in the leak of unreleased episodes of several shows, scripts, internal emails, and personal information for the Game of Thrones cast. Accompanying the hack was a ransom video for HBO executives, which has now surfaced online.

The video, published by Mashable, is a five-minute screed addressed to HBO CEO Richard Plepler. An individual calling themselves “Mr. Smith” explains that they’ve “breached into your huge network,” and claims to have obtained 1.5 terabytes of information after a six-month effort. The video offers HBO three days to pay a ransom, repeatedly described as “XXXX dollars,” in what Mashable assumes is a redaction of an actual amount sent to HBO.

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HBO hackers return with exec emails and a ransom demand

After hitting the headlines last week, the hackers responsible for the HBO data breach are back. And, this time they're demanding a ransom. On Monday, the group leaked internal emails, and multiple documents relating to Game of Thrones — including a…
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