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Researchers Discovered Counterfeit Phones with Backdoor to Hack WhatsApp Accounts

It's recommended that users purchase mobile devices only from official stores and legitimate distributors.

 

Budget Android device models that are replicas of popular smartphone brands are infected with numerous trojans devised to target the WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business messaging apps. Doctor Web discovered the malware in the system partitions of at least four different smartphones in July 2022: P48pro, redmi note 8, Note30u, and Mate40. 

The cybersecurity firm said in a report published, "These incidents are united by the fact that the attacked devices were copycats of famous brand-name models. Moreover, instead of having one of the latest OS versions installed on them with the corresponding information displayed in the device details (for example, Android 10), they had the long outdated 4.4.2 version."

The tampering specifically affects two files, "/system/lib/libcutils.so" and "/system/lib/libmtd.so," which have been modified in such a way that when the libcutils.so system library is used by any app, it activates the execution of a trojan embedded in libmtd.so. If the apps that use the libraries are WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business, libmtd.so launches a third backdoor whose primary function is to download and install additional plugins from a remote location.

The researchers stated, "The danger of the discovered backdoors and the modules they download is that they operate in such a way that they actually become part of the targeted apps. As a result, they gain access to the attacked apps' files and can read chats, send spam, intercept and listen to phone calls, and execute other malicious actions, depending on the functionality of the downloaded modules."

Libmtd.so is configured to start a local server that enables connections from a remote or local client via the "mysh" console if the app using the libraries turns out to be wpa supplicant - a system daemon used to manage network connections.

Potential Risks

Based on the discovery of another trojan embedded in the system application responsible for over-the-air (OTA) firmware updates, Doctor Web hypothesised that the system partition implants could be part of the FakeUpdates (aka SocGholish) malware family.

The malicious app, on the other hand, is designed to exfiltrate detailed metadata concerning the infected device as well as download and install other software without the user's knowledge using Lua scripts.
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Cyber Fraud

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Hackers

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WhatsApp