Porn App Took Secret Photos Of Users, Demanded Ransom

Picture it! You’re just innocently scrolling through some porn app on your Android, looking for something to get off to, when all of a sudden your phone locks and you’re told they’ve used your phone to take a picture of you, and that you must give them $500 in order to unlock it again. GAH!

Well, that’s a thing that happened to a ton of people who downloaded a porn app called Adult Player — which, although not available on Google Play, could be downloaded directly to a phone from a website. The app itself held their phones hostage and threatened to blackmail them by releasing their photos if they refused to pay, using a type of malware known as “ransomware.” People were likely to pay the ransom for fear of embarrassment, or fear of losing important data.

Use of ransomware has increased dramatically within the past couple years–and experts say you are best off just losing your data rather than paying the ransom, because there’s no guarantee that the hackers will actually unlock your device.

However! One thing you should know is that there is also a lot of “pretend” ransomware that says it locks up your device but actually doesn’t. Awhile back, I was doing an image search for something (I forget what, I do like 20 a day) and I got a super freaky notification that looked something like this.

ransomware1

Along with that, I got this horrifying pop-up message saying that everything on my computer was being tracked by the FBI and that they were turning on my computer’s camera, and that it could all be stopped by paying them $300. Now, I know enough about how shit works to know that if the actual FBI thought I was doing something super illegal, they wouldn’t be like, “And for $300 we can make this all go away!” But holy shit, it was still terrifying. But, my immediate reaction, before getting rational, was trying to figure out what the hell I could have searched for that would have turned up something illegal somehow and thinking “Oh god I’m going to jail” while my heart beat out of my chest.

If I hadn’t been an avid watcher of crime shows, or if I had been a more vulnerable person in that way, my first reaction might have been to just pay the fine, instead of using another device to look up what was going on and find out how to get my computer back to normal. Luckily, I also had a Mac (the ransomware doesn’t actually lock Macs, but it can lock Windows computers), so I was able to quickly fix the problem. Still, I can totally see how easy it would have been to just give in to the panic and pay the fine — so it’s not surprising that so many people have been taken advantage of in this way.

Hopefully the people who created Adult Player will end up in jail, but in the meantime, be careful and don’t go downloading porn apps from random websites, OK?

[BBC]