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Android Nougat Will Prevent Ransomware From Resetting Passwords: Symantec

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • With Android Nougat, ransomware may not reset password on devices
  • Symantec suggests users to not download apps from untrusted sources
  • Ransomware halts apps and processes leaving users with a locked device

Ransomware is one of the most commonly found malware attacks on Android devices that have inrecent years made headlines. After gaining elevated privileges, the ransomware essentially hijacks the device, halting other apps and system processes, leaving users with a locked Android device until they pay to get rid of it.

Symantec, the provider of security products and solutions, in a report claims that the Android’s latest OS version may bring a fix to ransomware attacks by introducing a new condition so the “resetPassword” API cannot be used to reset a device’s password. According to Symantec, AndroidNougat’s API can only be used to set the password and “not to reset the password.” It adds that with the new change, there is no way that ransomware can reset lock screen password on Android Nougat.

“This development will be effective in ensuring that malware cannot reset the lock screen password, as the change is strictly enforced and there is no backward compatibility escape route for the threat. Backward compatibility would have allowed malware to reset the lock screen password even on newer Android versions,” explains Symantec’s Dinesh Venkatesan in a blog post.

The report however points out that the change will prevent malware from resetting the lock screen password but it will not stop threats from “setting the password on devices with no existing password.”

The report adds that the new condition will also affect standalone disinfection utilities which also depend on the “resetPassword()” API. “A disinfector utility is an automated tool designed to help users whose devices are infected with malware,” writes Venkatesan.

Symantec suggests some best practices for users to stay protected from mobile threats such as keeping the software up to date; not downloading apps from unfamiliar sites or sources; paying close attention to the permissions requested by apps; installing a mobile security app on device, and making frequent backups of data.

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