Kaspersky is cautioning Internet users against the continued popularity of browser lockers (browlocks) where victims are prevented from accessing their Web browsers until they pay a ransom. While not new, this class of online threats has gained momentum in recent months as people have become more reliant on their mobile browsers during ongoing lockdown conditions.
Browlocks rely on fake pages that trick unsuspecting users into either making a call, performing a money transfer, or giving out their payment details. The locker takes control of the current tab on the browser which will often display threatening messages often accompanied by visual effects and sound.
“While these are not particularly complex threats, the scare tactics employed by the threat actors often prove successful in intimidating people into making mistakes when it comes to cybersecurity best practice. These browlocks are essentially smoke-and-mirror tactics that rely on threats more than technical compromises,” says Bethwel Opil, Enterprise Sales Manager at Kaspersky in Africa.
The integrated security features of modern browsers mitigate against the risk of certain keys being disabled by browlocks, such as Escape, Alt, and Tab. It is imperative for mobile and desktop users to ensure they always run the latest versions of installed apps and operating system software.
The built-in ad blockers of many browsers also rely on guidelines by the Coalition for Better Ads. If a Web site falls foul of these standards, the browser will typically block not only an ad, but all advertising on the resource – both elements which browlocks use to propagate.
“In most instances, people should simply close the browser via the Task Manager on their devices or simply restart their systems. They will be safe as long as they do not install any malicious code, dial the fraudulent numbers, and the like,” Opil concludes.