What you really need to know about new Android malware Filecoder.C

A cybersecurity company has unearthed a new strain of ransomware targeting Android devices.

The report from ESET says that the 'Android/Filecoder.C' malware has been active since July 12 and first cropped up on Reddit.

According to the researchers, the virus is typically disguised as an X-rated online game, but can also come masked as a more PG-13 tech app.

New Android nasty emerges

If the infected .APK file is downloaded by an unsuspecting user, it then connects with a server and taps into the victim's contact list.

This allows it to start spreading itself via SMS text message in up to 42 different languages, but at the same time it's also encrypting files on the host device so that the user can't access them.

Those who fall prey to the virus are instructed to pay a ransom of between $94 and $188 in Bitcoin.

Once a transfer is received, a private key is sent allowing the victim to decrypt the locked files. 

The attackers threaten to destroy the files in 72 hours if the ransom isn't paid, though ESET says its research indicates that isn't always the case.

Protecting yourself from malware

The best way to protect yourself against malware like Filecoder.C is also the simplest: don't download unknown files to your device.

In the case of Android, this means being particularly care of where you download APK files from.

Outside of the Google Play Store, this means sticking to downloading apps from trusted sites like APK Mirror.

Likewise, read your texts carefully before clicking on any links they may contain.

Does it really sound like something your friend would say? Do you normally use SMS to communicate, or WhatsApp? Questions like these can help you decide if there's something fishy about the message you received.

You should also be particularly wary of anything naughty sounding, as ransomware is notorious for disguising itself as adult content.

Beyond that, many of the best antivirus software providers offer mobile equivalents of their desktop apps, and installing one of these can give you extra peace of mind.

James Laird

A technology journalist with nearly 10 years of experience, James is the former News and Features Editor at Trusted Reviews, and has also served as regional Editor of Lifehacker. His articles have been spotted on sites ranging from The Sun to InStyle, but his true love is shiny things and the story behind them. An avid golfer in his spare time, you'll also regularly catch him hovering over the BBQ listening to Pearl Jam.