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SharkBot Malware Returns to Google Play, to Steal Login Credentials

 

A new and updated version of the SharkBot malware has returned to Google's Play Store, targeting Android users' banking logins via apps with tens of thousands of installations. When submitted to Google's automatic review, the malware was found in two Android apps that did not contain any malicious code. SharkBot, on the other hand, is added in an update that takes place after the user installs and launches the dropper apps.

According to a blog post by Fox IT, a division of the NCC Group, the two malicious apps are "Mister Phone Cleaner" and "Kylhavy Mobile Security," which have 60,000 installations combined. Although the two apps have been removed from Google Play, users who have installed them are still at risk and will require to uninstall them manually.

SharkBot has advanced now

SharkBot was discovered in October 2021 by malware analysts at Cleafy, an Italian online fraud management and prevention company. NCC Group discovered the first apps carrying it on Google Play in March 2022.

At the time, the malware was capable of performing overlay attacks, stealing data through keylogging, intercepting SMS messages, and granting threat actors complete remote control of the host device by abusing the Accessibility Services. 

ThreatFabric researchers discovered SharkBot 2 in May 2022, which included a domain generation algorithm (DGA), an updated communication protocol, and completely refactored code. On August 22, Fox-IT researchers discovered a new version of the malware (2.25) that adds the ability to steal cookies from bank account logins.

“Abusing the accessibility permissions, the dropper was able to automatically click all the buttons shown in the UI to install Sharkbot. But this is not the case in this new version of the dropper for Sharkbot. The dropper instead will make a request to the C2 server to directly receive the APK file of Sharkbot. It won’t receive a download link alongside the steps to install the malware using the ‘Automatic Transfer Systems’ (ATS) features, which it normally did,” Fox IT says.

When the dropper app is installed, it contacts the command and control (C2) server and requests the malicious SharkBot APK file. The dropper then notifies the user that an update is available and instructs them to install the APK and grant all necessary permissions. SharkBot stores its hard-coded configuration in encrypted form using the RC4 algorithm to make automated detection more complicated. 

About cookie-loving Sharkbot

SharkBot 2.25 retains the overlay, SMS intercept, remote control, and keylogging systems, but a cookie logger has been added on top of them. When the victim logs into their bank account, SharkBot uses a new command ("logsCookie") to steal their valid session cookie and send it to the C2.

Cookies are useful for account takeovers because they contain software and location information that help bypass fingerprinting checks or, in some cases, the user authentication token itself. Throughout the investigation, Fox IT personnel discovered new SharkBot campaigns in Europe (Spain, Austria, Germany, Poland, and Austria) and the United States. 

The researchers discovered that the malware uses the keylogging feature in these attacks to steal sensitive information directly from the official app it targets. Fox IT expects SharkBot campaigns to continue and the malware to evolve now that an improved version of the malware is available.

Android Apps With 45 Million Installs Used For Data Harvesting SDK

 

Recently, Mobile malware researchers warned about a set of applications available on the Google Play Store that are stealing the private data of users from over 45 million installs of the apps. 

The apps consume credentials of the users through a third-party SDK in which it gets access to the users' capture clipboard content (store very sensitive data, such as crypto wallet recovery seeds, passwords, or credit card numbers), email addresses, GPS data, phone numbers, and even the user’s modem router MAC address and network SSID. This sensitive data could lead to significant privacy risks, the researchers said. 

The famous and most downloaded app applications to be using this SDK to send sensitive data of users are enlisted below:

• Al-Moazin Lite – 10 million installations (phone number, IMEI, router SSID, router MAC address) 
• Speed Camera Radar – 10 million installations (phone number, IMEI, router SSID, router MAC address) 
• WiFi Mouse – 10 million installations (router MAC address) 
• Qibla Compass Ramadan 2022 – 5 million installations (GPS data, router SSID, router MAC address) • QR & Barcode Scanner – 5 million installations (phone number, email address, IMEI, GPS data, router SSID, router MAC address) 
• Handcent Next SMS-Text w/MSS – 1 million installations (email address, IMEI, router SSID, router MAC address) 
• Smart Kit 360 – 1 million installations (email address, IMEI, router SSID, router MAC address) 
• Simple weather & clock widget – 1 million installations (phone number, IMEI, router SSID, router MAC address) 
• Al Quran mp3 – 50 Reciters & Translation Audio – 1 million installations (GPS data, router SSID, router MAC address) 
• Audiosdroid Audio Studio DAW – 1 million installations (phone number, IMEI, GPS data, router SSID, router MAC address) 
• Full Quran MP3 – 50+ Languages & Translation Audio – 1 million installations (GPS data, router SSID, router MAC address) 

In the wake of the security incident, Google removed many applications from the Google Play store after discovering that they contain data harvesting software. Several Muslim prayer apps, a highway-speed-trap detection app, and a QR-code reading app, were installed more than 45 million times, as per the researchers. 

Top Israeli Officials Duped by Bearded Barbie Hackers

 

Cybercriminals appear to be aggressively promoting the Remcos RAT that first appeared in hacking forums in 2016 and was marketed sold, and offered cracks on a variety of websites and forums. In 2017, researchers discovered Remcos being distributed via a malicious PowerPoint slideshow with a CVE-2017-0199 exploit. Remcos RAT is a piece of commercial software which may be purchased online. 

An "elaborate effort" targeting high-profile Israeli individuals working in critical defense, law enforcement, and emergency services sectors has been traced to a threat actor associated with Hamas' cyber warfare section. The Hamas-backed hacker outfit dubbed 'APT-C-23' was discovered catfishing Israeli officials in defense, law enforcement, and government institutions, resulting in the deployment of new malware. 

Before delivering spyware, the campaign uses advanced social engineering techniques like creating phony social media identities and maintaining a strong partnership with the targets. AridViper has previously targeted Palestinian law enforcement, military, or educational institutions, as well as the Israel Security Agency, with spear-phishing assaults (ISA). Researchers from Cisco Talos discovered AridViper assaults against activists involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict in February.

Malicious actors have built several phony Facebook pages utilizing forged credentials and pirated or AI-generated photographs of attractive women, and have used these profiles to approach their targets. The operators have spent months curating these profiles to make them appear legitimate, posting in Hebrew and alike organizations and prominent pages in Israel. The creators of these profiles create a network of friends who are actually people who work in Israel's police, defense forces, emergency services, or government. The opponents recommend transferring the chat to WhatsApp, ostensibly for more privacy, after building the target's trust by talking with individuals for a while. 

The Android app is actually the virus VolatileVenom.The icon is concealed on pre-Android 10 devices; with Android 10, the virus utilizes the Google Play installation icon. When the victim tries to sign into the Wink Chat, an error message appears, stating the app will be deleted. With a wide spectrum of espionage capabilities, VolatileVenom continues to function in the background. 

The malicious actors will eventually email the target a RAR file containing supposedly explicit photographs or videos as part of the catfishing attempts. This RAR file, on the other hand, contains the Barb(ie) installer malware, which installs the BarbWire backdoor. The filename of a sample of Barb(ie) detected by Cybereason is "Windows Notifications," and when it is made to run, it performs basic anti-analysis checks. If the host is deemed appropriate, the downloader links to an integrated C2 server. 

The BarbWire Backdoor is sent by the C2 server. The downloader contains a backup technique for finding a different C2. If the attackers need to modify the C2 from the one inserted, they can simply send an SMS message with the new destination. All inbound SMS messages are intercepted by the downloader. If one is provided by the intruders, it can just extract the new C2 information and install the backdoor. BarbWire steals data from PDFs, Office files, archives, picture files, movies, and photos, among other file types. It also checks for external media, such as a CD-ROM file, implying it's hunting for highly sensitive material which is carried around physically or over the internet. The stolen information is stored in a RAR archive and then sent to the attackers' C2 server. 

APT-C-23 employs several approaches which have been used in previous operations against Israeli targets, but it is constantly evolving with new tools and more intricate social engineering efforts. The lack of overlapping infrastructure distinguishes Operation Bearded Barbie from past missions, indicating the group's goal of avoiding notice. Another escalation for the threat actor is the usage of two backdoors, one for Windows and one for Android, resulting in very active espionage for the compromised targets.

Google Authenticator Codes for Android is Targeted by Nefarious Escobar Banking Trojan

 


'Escobar' virus has resurfaced in the form of a novel threat, this time targeting Google Authenticator MFA codes. 

The spyware, which goes by the package name com.escobar.pablo is the latest Aberebot version which was discovered by researchers from Cyble, a security research firm, who combed through a cybercrime-related forum. Virtual view, phishing overlays, screen captures, text-message captures, and even multi-factor authentication capture are all included in the feature set. 

All of these characteristics are utilized in conjunction with a scheme to steal a user's financial data. This malware even tries to pass itself off as McAfee antivirus software, with the McAfee logo as its icon. It is not uncommon for malware to disguise itself as a security software; in fact, it was recently reported that the malware was installed straight inside of a completely functional 2-factor authentication app. 

The malicious author is leasing the beta version of the malware to a maximum of five customers for $3,000 per month, with threat actors getting three days to test the bot for free. After development, the threat actor intends to raise the malware's price to $5,000. 

Even if the overlay injections are curtailed in some way, the malware has various other capabilities to make it effective against any Android version. In the most recent version, the authors increased the number of aimed banks and financial organizations to 190 entities from 18 countries. 

The malware asks a total of 25 rights, 15 of which are employed nefariously. To name a few, accessibility, audio recording, read SMS, read/write storage, acquiring account lists, disabling keylock, making calls, and accessing precise device locations. Everything the virus captures, including SMS call records, key logs, notifications, and Google Authenticator codes, is sent to the C2 server. 

It is too soon to gauge the popularity of the new Escobar malware among cybercriminals, especially given its exorbitant price. Nonetheless, it has grown in strength to the point that it can now lure a wider audience. 

In general, avoiding the installation of APKs outside of Google Play, utilizing a mobile security application, and ensuring the Google Play Protect is enabled on your device will reduce, the chances of being infected with Android trojans.

Spyware Infests the Microsoft Store with Classic Game Pirates

 



Electron Bot, a malware which infiltrated Microsoft's Official Store via clones of popular games like Subway Surfer and Temple Run, infected approximately 5,000 machines in Sweden, Israel, Spain, and Bermuda. 

Check Point discovered and studied the malware, which is a backdoor to give attackers unlimited control over infected PCs, allowing for remote command processing and real-time interactions. The threat actors' purpose is social media promotion and fraud, which is done by gaining control of social media profiles where Electron Bot allows for new account registration, commenting, and liking. 

An initial Electron Bot variant was uploaded to the Microsoft Store as "Album by Google Photos," published by a faked Google LLC business, and the operation was identified at the end of 2018. The malware, which is named after the Electron programming language, can mimic natural browsing behavior and perform acts as if it were a real website visitor. It accomplishes this by opening a new hidden browser window with the Electron framework's Chromium engine, setting the relevant HTTP headers, rendering the requested HTML page, and lastly performing mouse actions.

Threat actors develop rogue websites and employ search engine optimization strategies to push them to the top of the search results in an SEO poisoning campaign. SEO poisoning is also offered as a service to increase other websites' ranks, in addition to boosting bad sites' SEO rankings. The infection chain starts when the user downloads one of the infected apps from the Microsoft Store, which is otherwise a reliable source of software. When the application is launched, a JavaScript dropper is dynamically loaded in the side to fetch and install the Electron Bot payload. 

The malware links to the C2 (Electron Bot[.]s3[.]eu-central-1[.]amazonaws. com or 11k[.]online), acquires its configuration, and implements any commands in the pipeline at the next system startup. The JS files dumped on the machine's RAM are relatively short and appear to be benign because the major scripts are loaded flexibly at run time. 

Fraud, fleece wear, and financial trojans abound in official app shops. The Xenomorph banking malware was recently found by ThreatFabric, and the most humorous has to be Vultur, a trojan hidden inside a fully functional two-factor authentication (2FA) app which recently infected 10,000 people who downloaded it from Google Play. 

The successful entry of Electron Bot into Microsoft's official app store is only the most recent example of how consumers throw precaution into the breeze whenever a user views a bright new toy on the apps.

GriftHorse Malware has Infected More than 10 Million Android Devices

 

A new malware named GriftHorse is said to have infected over 10 million Android cell phones. According to the research at mobile security firm Zimperium, the threat group has been executing the campaign since November 2020. The GriftHorse malware was propagated through both Google Play and third-party application stores, according to the research group, and it stole "hundreds of millions of Euros" from victims. 

GriftHorse will produce a significant number of notifications and popups when a user downloads any of the malicious programmes, luring consumers in with exceptional discounts or prizes. People who click these are taken to a web page where they must authenticate their phone number in order to gain access to the promotion. 

In actuality, GriftHorse's victims are paying for premium SMS services that cost more than $35 per month. GriftHorse operators are thought to have made anywhere from $1.5 million to $4 million per month with this fraud, and their initial victims are thought to have lost more than $230 if they didn't stop the scam. 

GriftHorse malware has been tracked by Zimperium researchers Aazim Yaswant and Nipun Gupta for months, and they describe it as "one of the most widespread campaigns the zLabs threat research team has encountered in 2021." But, according to the two Zimperium researchers, the GriftHorse developers put a lot of effort into the quality of their malware, using a wide range of websites, malicious apps, and developer personas to infect victims and evade detection as much as possible.

“The level of sophistication, use of novel techniques, and determination displayed by the threat actors allowed them to stay undetected for several months,” Yaswant and Gupta explained. “In addition to a large number of applications, the distribution of the applications was extremely well-planned, spreading their apps across multiple, varied categories, widening the range of potential victims.” 

Handy Translator Pro, Heart Rate and Pulse Tracker, Geospot: GPS Location Tracker, iCare – Find Location, and My Chat Translator are among the popular apps infested with GriftHorse malware. Users in India are also affected, according to the firm. Zimperium, a member of the App Defense Alliance, claimed it alerted Google about all GriftHorse-infected apps, which have since been withdrawn from the Play Store. These apps may, however, still be available in third-party app stores.

Fake Minecraft Modpacks On Google Play Deliver Millions of Abusive Ads and Disrupt Normal Phone Usage

 

Scammers have now begun taking advantage of the Minecraft sandbox video clip game’s wild accomplishment by building Google Play applications.
These applications surface to be Minecraft modpacks, but in its place supply abusive ads, as per researchers. Because Minecraft was designed in Java, it was easy for third-party developers to create compatible applications or these “modpacks” to enhance and customize the gaming experience for players. 

The reason why the game is so popular is basically the fact it builds certain skills within the players which have also been touted by parents and educators as beneficial (especially for kids). Since July, Kaspersky researchers have found more than 20 of these apps and determined that they have been downloaded on more than a million Android devices. 

Among those 15,000 Minecraft mods lurk at least 20 that Kaspersky researchers were able to identify as malicious. Google Play has removed all but five of the malicious titles, Kaspersky said: Zone Modding Minecraft, Textures for Minecraft ACPE, Seeded for Minecraft ACPE, Mods for Minecraft ACPE and Darcy Minecraft Mod are still up and available.

As per Kaspersky, once the modpack malware is installed on the Android device, it only allows itself to be opened once, and once opened, the app is glitchy and useless — exactly how it’s intended to work. 

“The frustrated user closes the app, which promptly vanishes. More precisely, its icon disappears from the smartphone’s menu. Because the ‘modpack’ seemed glitchy from the start, most users, especially kids and teens, won’t waste time looking for it,” a report reads by researchers.

“The sample we examined automatically opened a browser window with ads every two minutes, greatly interfering with normal smartphone use. In addition to the browser, the apps can open Google Play and Facebook or play YouTube videos, depending on the [command-and-control] server’s orders. Whatever the case, the constant stream of full-screen ads makes the phone practically unusable,” the report continued. 

Researchers said reinstalling the browser or messing with the settings would be the next likely troubleshoot, but that won’t get rid of the malware either. 

First, the user needs to identify the malicious app. The device will display a full list of apps under settings, (Settings → Apps and notifications → Show all apps). Delete the app from this list and the malware should be gone.

“Fortunately, the misbehaving modpacks get removed entirely with deletion and do not try to restore themselves.” However, researchers suggest that in order to avoid malicious apps for the parents and kids they should know where to look. For instance, they pointed out that although two of the malicious modpacks have different publishers, the descriptions are identical, “down to the typos.” 

The app ratings also offer a clue something is fishy. Kaspersky pointed out that the average rating was in the three-star neighborhood, but that’s because there were extreme reviews on either end of the spectrum, one-star or five-stars. 



Users complain that the app doesn't work and just deletes itself

“That kind of spread suggests that bots are leaving rave reviews, but real users are very unhappy,” the report added. “Unfortunately, in this case, the cybercriminals are targeting kids and teenagers, who may not pay attention to ratings and reviews before installing an app.”

Google removes 16 apps infected by 'Agent Smith' malware

Every now and then, Android keeps getting visited from deadly malware attacks that put user and their data at lots of risks. This time, it's a new malware called Agent Smith and like its name, this malware is sneaky in what it's designed to do - bombard your phone with ads. Agent Smith also has properties to stick to other apps installed on the phone and ensure that the malware infection stays the same. The malware was first detected by Check Point and after working with Google, the infected apps have been removed from Google Play Store.

After it was informed of the infection, Google has identified and removed 16 apps from the Play Store that are known to be infected by Agent Smith. These apps are no longer available for download from the Play Store and there won't be further updates for these apps via the Play Store. However, Google can only remove the app from the Play Store but it can't wipe these apps from an individual's Android phone. Hence, if you have the following apps installed on your Android phone, you should uninstall them immediately.

Ludo Master - New Ludo Game 2019 For Free

Sky Warriors: General Attack

Color Phone Flash - Call Screen Theme

Bio Blast - Infinity Battle Shoot virus

Shooting Jet

Photo Projector

Gun Hero - Gunman Game for Free

Cooking Witch

Blockman Go: Free Realms & Mini Games

Crazy Juicer - Hot Knife Hit Game & Juice Blast

Clash of Virus

Angry Virus

Rabbit Temple

Star Range

Kiss Game: Touch Her Heart

Girl Cloth Xray Scan Simulator

However, Agent Smith can cling on to other popular apps and make it difficult for users to identify which app has been affected by it. Two most popular apps in India include WhatsApp - through which it has infected 1.5 crore Android phones, and Flipkart.

Most of the Antivirus Android Apps Ineffective and Unreliable



In a report published by AV-Comparatives, an Austrian antivirus testing company, it has been found out that the majority of anti-malware and antivirus applications for Android are untrustworthy and ineffective.

While surveying 250 antivirus applications for Android, the company discovered that only 80 of them detected more than 30% of the 2,000 harmful apps they were tested with. Moreover, a lof of them showed considerably high false alarm rates.

The detailed version of the report showcased that the officials at AV-Comparatives selected 138 companies which are providing anti-malware applications on Google Play. The list included some of the most well-known names like Google Play Protect, Falcon Security Lab, McAfee, Avast, AVG, Symantec, BitDefender, VSAR, DU Master, ESET and various others.

ZDNet noted that the security researchers at AV-Comparatives resorted to manual testing of all the 250 apps chosen for the study instead of employing an emulator. The process of downloading and installing these infectious apps on an Android device was repeated 2,000 times which assisted the researchers in concluding the end result i.e., the majority of those applications are not reliable and effective to detect malware or virus.

However, the study conducted by AV-Comparatives also highlighted that some of the offered antivirus applications can potentially block malicious apps.

As some of the vendors did not bother to add their own package names into the white list, the associated antivirus apps detected themselves as infectious. Meanwhile, some of the antivirus applications were found with wildcards in order to allow packages starting with an extension like "com.adobe" which can easily be exploited by the hackers to breach security.

On a safer side, Google guards by its Play Protect which provides security from viruses on Android by default. Despite that, some users opt for anti-malware apps from third-party app stores or other unknown sources which affect safety on their devices.

The presence of malicious apps on Google Play was also noticed in the past and with the aforementioned study, Android is becoming an unsafe mobile platform.