Android users beware: a new scam can lock down your home screen

If it wasn’t bad enough that some mobile manufacturers had issues with letting you change the shortcut dock on your phone, now some scammers have come up with a way to stop you from accessing your phone unless you hand over some cash.

Picked up by BitDefender, it’s one of those security stories no one wants to hear about, and yet still happens: you go to a website on your phone, and a few minutes later, when you press the home button, you’re told that you need to pay some money in order to use your phone.

But while it sounds like the sort of thing that shouldn’t be true — I mean, shouldn’t phones be better than this? — it’s a real situation affecting people out there with Android phones.

Not all of them, but rather people who are surfing dubious websites, many of which happen to be pornographic in nature. On some of these sites, a special Android application can install itself to a phone after it automatically downloads. Even if it doesn’t automatically install, the app in question can look like it’s something you’d want to install, as it came from these sites.

Once installed, the app won’t help you find any extra pictures or movies from said sites, but will instead do a search on the country you’re working from, and create a fake law enforcement screen telling you a security firm believes you’re conducting illegal activities.

“When installed, it blocks the homescreen and, if users attempt to return to Home using the home button, the lock screen pops up again, thus preventing the user from using their phone or tablet,” said Bogdan Botezatu, Senior E-Threat Analyst at Bitdefender.

With no access to the home screen, you’ll instead be asked to cough up $300, and with no real way of getting there, that’s how this scam works, delivering a fake security notice and taking some hard earned money.

We do need to note that right now, the virus named “Android.Trojan.Koler.A” does seem to only making itself available on websites that are based around a pornographic nature, but if it does manage to make its way into other sites, it could spell disaster for many mobile owners.

The solution would be to grab some form of security on an Android device ahead of time, which can help pick up on potential scams and cons before they infect your device. Loads of these are available, so if you’re at all concerned, best head to the Google Play Store and look at your options.