Of all the different forms of malware, none are more destructive than ransomware. Ransomware can encrypt your data while demanding that you pay a fee or “ransom” to regain access to it. Research shows that the number of ransomware attacks has increased by over 60% within the past two years. While most of these attacks target desktop computers and servers, some of them target mobile devices.

The Basics of Mobile Ransomware

Mobile ransomware is exactly what it sounds like: It’s ransomware that specifically targets smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Most people today own a mobile device. Cyber criminals acknowledge the popularity and widespread usage of mobile devices, so they use mobile ransomware to target these devices. Mobile ransomware is similar to standard ransomware; the only difference is that it targets mobile devices.

How Mobile Ransomware Works

During a mobile ransomware attack, a cyber criminal will deploy malware on your mobile device. All standard and mobile ransomware attacks begin with the deployment of malware. Ransomware is a form of malware. Once deployed on your mobile device, the mobile ransomware will either encrypt or otherwise lock your data, meaning you won’t be able to access it. At the same time, you may see a pop-up demanding that you pay a fee.

Tips to Protect Against Mobile Ransomware

While mobile ransomware has become increasingly common, there are a few things you can do to prevent it. For starters, make sure your mobile device is running up-to-date software. Mobile devices have operating systems just like desktop computers — and these operating systems need to be updated. If your mobile device has an outdated operating system, it could have a vulnerability that renders it a target for mobile ransomware.

You should also avoid downloading apps from an official marketplace. Official marketplaces are those like Google Play and Apple’s App Store. When developers add their app to an official marketplace, the app will be checked for malware. Therefore, instances of mobile ransomware are rare when downloading from an official marketplace. If you download an app from a third-party marketplace, on the other hand, your device may become infected with mobile ransomware.

Using an antivirus app can protect your mobile device from mobile ransomware. Antivirus apps are designed to scan and neutralize malware — just like antivirus software for desktop computers. Some antivirus apps are free. Others are paid. Regardless, using an antivirus app can protect your mobile device from all forms of malware, including mobile ransomware.