A Russian-spawned mobile Trojan which combines elements of both financial malware and ransomware is now attacking English language banking apps.
The emergence of the new threat comes as the two-week window for PC users to protect themselves from the infamous Cryptolocker ransomware and Gameover Zeus Trojan draws to a close, following an FBI-led effort to disrupt the criminal botnets running the operation.
The success of these two scams appears to have spawned a number of copycats among mobile malware writers, with Spyeng - a famous money stealing mobile Trojan in Russia - seen as the most potent.
First spotted in the wild last week by Kaspersky Labs, the Trojan initially searches the user's phone against a pre-set list of top US banking applications. Then it locks the screen of the mobile device with the imitation of an FBI penalty notification letter and demands $200 in the form of Green Dot's MoneyPak cards.
More than 91% of attacks are currently targeting English-language users based in US and UK, with India, Germany and Switzerland commanding the remaining nine per cent.
Roman Unuchek, senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab says it is impossible to repel an attack once the malware is uploaded.
"The only hope for unlocking the device is if it was already rooted before it was infected," he says. "Then it could be unlocked without deleting the data. One more option is to remove the Trojan, if your phone wasn't rooted is to boot into 'Safe Mode' and erase all data on the phone only, while SIM and SD cards will stay untouched and uninfected."