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Android Trojan Spotted in Multiple Applications on Google Play Harvesting User Credentials


Cybersecurity researchers at Dr. Web monitoring the mobile app ecosystem have spotted a major tip in trojan infiltration on the Google Play Store, with one of the applications having over 500,000 installations and available to download. 

The majority of these applications belong to a family of trojan malware used in a variety of scams, resulting in money losses as well as the theft of sensitive private details. Additionally, a new Android trojan called ‘Android.Spy.4498’ designed as a WhatsApp mod has been discovered in the wild. The trojan is spreading via malicious websites promoted by social media posts, forums, and SEO poisoning.

According to Dr. Web's report published in January 2022, the ‘Android.Spy.4498’ was identified in some of the unofficial WhatsApp applications (mods) named GBWhatsApp, OBWhatsApp, or WhatsApp Plus. These mods provide Arabic language support, home screen widgets, separate bottom bar, hide status options, call blocking, and the ability to auto-save received media. These mods are popular in the online communities because they offer additional features not available in the vanilla WhatsApp.

The Trojan is also capable of downloading apps and offering users to install them in order to display dialog boxes with the content it receives from malicious actors. During the attack, Android.Spy.4498 requests access to manage notifications and read their content. 

Additionally, the threats identified on the Play Store include cryptocurrency management applications, social benefit aid tools, Gasprom investment clones, photo editors, and a launcher themed after iOS 15. The majority of fake investment apps trick the victims to design a new account and deposit money supposedly for trading, which is simply transferred to the fraudster’s bank account. Other apps attempt to trick the user into signing up for expensive subscriptions. 

The user reviews under the app describe tactics that resemble subscription scams, charging $2 per week for verification or ad removals, yet offering nothing in return. As the report details, apps discovered by security analysts will load affiliate service sites and enable paid subscriptions through the Wap Click technology after tricking the user into entering their phone number.  

To mitigate the risks, researchers advised installing the apps from trustworthy sources, checking user reviews, scrutinizing permission requests upon installation, and monitoring battery and internet data consumption afterward. Also, to monitor the status of Google Play Protect regularly and add a second layer of protection by using a mobile security tool from a reputable vendor.