A pretend Pornhub app is infecting Android phones with malware

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It’s almost too ironic to be true. Porn is giving smartphones a virus, and it’s one that locks out their owners. As per a new report from cybersecurity firm ESET, apps pretending to be from Pornhub are infecting mobile devices with malware that locks users out of their handsets and demands a ransom for their release.

Because the Google Play Store forbids Pornhub from having an official app in the database (it doesn’t allow for pornographic material to appear on its software distribution platform), folks are apparently being tricked into looking elsewhere, and downloading apps that may look like what they’re lusting for, but that in fact are far more dangerous. The result is that users are finding they then need to fix their smartphone.

When you download one of these apps, it tells you first that it has to check your phone for viruses before playing any illicit videos. But rather than checking, of course, it’s actually installing a virus. Once the malware has made its way onto a handset by way of one of these rogue apps, it installs ransomware that locks you out of your phone and asks you to pay $100 in Bitcoin to release it from its hostage situation.

ESET has published a set of guidelines instructing smartphone owners on how to avoid this sort of malware, and has also provided instructions on how to get rid of the virus should you have already fallen victim. For example, you can put your device into Safe Mode, which blocks third-party apps, and “in the event that the application has been granted Device Administrator privileges,” you’ll need to revoke app access before deleting it to ensure that everything has been wiped.

Of course, if all else fails, you can always do a complete factory reset, though that tends to be a tad annoying. For more information on the malware and what to do about it, you can check out ESET’s full report on its official website.

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