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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: Android

New WhatsApp Bugs Could've Let Attackers Hack Your Phone Remotely

New WhatsApp Bugs Could've Let Attackers Hack Your Phone Remotely

April 14, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Facebook-owned WhatsApp recently addressed two security vulnerabilities in its messaging app for Android that could have been exploited to execute malicious code remotely on the device and even exfiltrate sensitive information. The flaws take aim at devices running Android versions up to and including Android 9 by carrying out what's known as a "man-in-the-disk" attack that makes it possible for adversaries to compromise an app by manipulating certain data being exchanged between it and the external storage. "The two aforementioned WhatsApp vulnerabilities would have made it possible for attackers to remotely collect TLS cryptographic material for TLS 1.3 and TLS 1.2 sessions," researchers from Census Labs  said  today.  "With the TLS secrets at hand, we will demonstrate how a man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack can lead to the compromise of WhatsApp communications, to remote code execution on the victim device and to the extraction of Noise protocol keys u
Android to Support Rust Programming Language to Prevent Memory Flaws

Android to Support Rust Programming Language to Prevent Memory Flaws

April 07, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Google on Tuesday announced that its open source version of the Android operating system will add support for Rust programming language in a bid to prevent memory safety bugs. To that end, the company has been building parts of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) with Rust for the past 18 months, with plans in the pipeline to scale this initiative to cover more aspects of the operating system. "Managed languages like Java and Kotlin are the best option for Android app development," Google  said . "The Android OS uses Java extensively, effectively protecting large portions of the Android platform from memory bugs. Unfortunately, for the lower layers of the OS, Java and Kotlin are not an option." Stating that code written in C and C++ languages requires robust isolation when parsing untrustworthy input, Google said the technique of containing such code within a tightly constrained and unprivileged sandbox can be expensive, causing latency issues and additional
WhatsApp-based wormable Android malware spotted on the Google Play Store

WhatsApp-based wormable Android malware spotted on the Google Play Store

April 07, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers have discovered yet another piece of wormable Android malware—but this time downloadable directly from the official Google Play Store—that's capable of propagating via WhatsApp messages. Disguised as a rogue Netflix app under the name of "FlixOnline," the malware comes with features that allow it to automatically reply to a victim's incoming WhatsApp messages with a payload received from a command-and-control (C&C) server.  "The application is actually designed to monitor the user's WhatsApp notifications, and to send automatic replies to the user's incoming messages using content that it receives from a remote C&C server," Check Point researchers said in an analysis published today. Besides masquerading as a Netflix app, the malicious "FlixOnline" app also requests intrusive permissions that allow it to create fake Login screens for other apps, with the goal of stealing credentials and gain access to
Pre-Installed Malware Dropper Found On German Gigaset Android Phones

Pre-Installed Malware Dropper Found On German Gigaset Android Phones

April 07, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
In what appears to be a fresh twist in Android malware, users of Gigaset mobile devices are encountering unwanted apps that are being downloaded and installed through a pre-installed system update app. "The culprit installing these malware apps is the Update app, package name  com.redstone.ota.ui , which is a pre-installed system app," Malwarebytes researcher Nathan Collier  said . "This app is not only the mobile device's system updater, but also an auto installer known as Android/PUP.Riskware.Autoins.Redstone." The development was  first reported  by German author and blogger Günter Born last week. While the issue seems to be mainly affecting Gigaset phones, devices from a handful of other manufacturers appear to be impacted as well. The full list of devices that come with the pre-installed auto-installer includes Gigaset GS270, Gigaset GS160, Siemens GS270, Siemens GS160, Alps P40pro, and Alps S20pro+. According to Malwarebytes, the Update app installs
Google limits which apps can access the list of installed apps on your device

Google limits which apps can access the list of installed apps on your device

April 02, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Apps on Android have been able to infer the presence of specific apps, or even collect the full list of installed apps on the device. What's more, an app can also set to be notified when a new app is installed. Apart from all the usual concerns about misuse of such a data grab, the information can be abused by a potentially harmful app to fingerprint other installed apps, check for the  presence of antivirus ,  affiliate fraud , and even for targeted ads.  In 2014, Twitter  began  tracking the list of apps installed on users' devices as part of its "app graph" initiative with an aim to deliver tailored content. Digital wallet company MobiKwik was also caught  collecting information  about installed apps in the wake of a data breach that came to light earlier this week. Indeed, a study undertaken by a group of Swiss researchers in 2019  found  that "free apps are more likely to query for such information and that third-party libraries (libs) are the main requ
Watch Out! That Android System Update May Contain A Powerful Spyware

Watch Out! That Android System Update May Contain A Powerful Spyware

March 27, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Researchers have discovered a new information-stealing trojan, which targets Android devices with an onslaught of data-exfiltration capabilities — from collecting browser searches to recording audio and phone calls. While malware on Android has previously taken the guise of copycat apps, which go under names similar to legitimate pieces of software, this sophisticated new malicious app masquerades itself as a System Update application to take control of compromised devices. "The spyware creates a notification if the device's screen is off when it receives a command using the Firebase messaging service," Zimperium researchers  said  in a Friday analysis. "The 'Searching for update..' is not a legitimate notification from the operating system, but the spyware." Once installed, the sophisticated spyware campaign sets about its task by registering the device with a Firebase command-and-control (C2) server with information such as battery percentage, sto
WARNING: A New Android Zero-Day Vulnerability Is Under Active Attack

WARNING: A New Android Zero-Day Vulnerability Is Under Active Attack

March 22, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Google has disclosed that a now-patched vulnerability affecting Android devices that use Qualcomm chipsets is being weaponized by adversaries to launch targeted attacks. Tracked as CVE-2020-11261 (CVSS score 8.4), the flaw concerns an "improper input validation" issue in Qualcomm's Graphics component that could be exploited to trigger memory corruption when an attacker-engineered app requests access to a huge chunk of the device's memory. "There are indications that CVE-2020-11261 may be under limited, targeted exploitation," the search giant said in an updated January security bulletin on March 18. CVE-2020-11261 was discovered and reported to Qualcomm by Google's Android Security team on July 20, 2020, after which it was fixed in January 2021. It's worth noting that the access vector for the vulnerability is "local," meaning that exploitation requires local access to the device. In other words, to launch a successful attack, the
9 Android Apps On Google Play Caught Distributing AlienBot Banker and MRAT Malware

9 Android Apps On Google Play Caught Distributing AlienBot Banker and MRAT Malware

March 09, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers have discovered a new malware dropper contained in as many as 9 Android apps distributed via Google Play Store that deploys a second stage malware capable of gaining intrusive access to the financial accounts of victims as well as full control of their devices. "This dropper, dubbed Clast82, utilizes a series of techniques to avoid detection by Google Play Protect detection, completes the evaluation period successfully, and changes the payload dropped from a non-malicious payload to the AlienBot Banker and MRAT," Check Point researchers Aviran Hazum, Bohdan Melnykov, and Israel Wernik said in a write-up published today. The apps that were used for the campaign include Cake VPN, Pacific VPN, eVPN, BeatPlayer, QR/Barcode Scanner MAX, Music Player, tooltipnatorlibrary, and QRecorder. After the findings were reported to Google on January 28, the rogue apps were removed from the Play Store on February 9.  Malware authors have resorted to a variety o
Researchers Uncover Android Spying Campaign Targeting Pakistan Officials

Researchers Uncover Android Spying Campaign Targeting Pakistan Officials

February 11, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Two new Android surveillanceware families have been found to target military, nuclear, and election entities in Pakistan and Kashmir as part of a pro-India, state-sponsored hacking campaign. Dubbed Hornbill and Sunbird, the malware impersonates legitimate or seemingly innocuous services to cover its tracks, only to stealthily collect SMS, encrypted messaging app content, and geolocation, among other types of sensitive information. The findings published by Lookout is the result of an analysis of 18GB of exfiltrated data that was publicly exposed from at least six insecurely configured command-and-control (C2) servers located in India. "Some notable targets included an individual who applied for a position at the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, individuals with numerous contacts in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), as well as officers responsible for electoral rolls (Booth Level Officers) located in the Pulwama district of Kashmir," the researchers  said  in a Wednesday ana
LodaRAT Windows Malware Now Also Targets Android Devices

LodaRAT Windows Malware Now Also Targets Android Devices

February 10, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A previously known Windows remote access Trojan (RAT) with credential-stealing capabilities has now expanded its scope to set its sights on users of Android devices to further the attacker's espionage motives. "The developers of  LodaRAT  have added Android as a targeted platform," Cisco Talos researchers  said  in a Tuesday analysis. "A new iteration of LodaRAT for Windows has been identified with improved sound recording capabilities." Kasablanca, the group behind the malware, is said to have deployed the new RAT in an ongoing hybrid campaign targeting Bangladeshi users, the researchers noted. The reason why Bangladesh-based organizations have been specifically singled out for this campaign remains unclear, as is the identity of the threat actor. First documented in May 2017 by  Proofpoint , Loda is an AutoIt malware typically delivered via phishing lures that's equipped to run a wide range of commands designed to record audio, video, and capture oth
Beware: New Matryosh DDoS Botnet Targeting Android-Based Devices

Beware: New Matryosh DDoS Botnet Targeting Android-Based Devices

February 04, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A nascent malware campaign has been spotted co-opting Android devices into a botnet with the primary purpose of carrying out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Called " Matryosh " by Qihoo 360's Netlab researchers, the latest threat has been found reusing the Mirai botnet framework and propagates through exposed Android Debug Bridge (ADB) interfaces to infect Android devices and ensnare them into its network. ADB is a  command-line tool  part of the Android SDK that handles communications and allows developers to install and debug apps on Android devices. While this option is turned off by default on most Android smartphones and tablets, some vendors ship with this feature enabled, thus allowing unauthenticated attackers to connect remotely via the 5555 TCP port and open the devices directly to exploitation. This is not the first time a botnet has taken advantage of ADB to infect vulnerable devices. In July 2018, open ADB ports were used to spread multip
Italy CERT Warns of a New Credential Stealing Android Malware

Italy CERT Warns of a New Credential Stealing Android Malware

January 28, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Researchers have disclosed a new family of Android malware that abuses accessibility services in the device to hijack user credentials and record audio and video. Dubbed " Oscorp " by Italy's CERT-AGID and spotted by  AddressIntel , the malware "induce(s) the user to install an accessibility service with which [the attackers] can read what is present and what is typed on the screen." So named because of the title of the login page of its command-and-control (C2) server, the malicious APK (called "Assistenzaclienti.apk" or "Customer Protection") is  distributed  via a domain named "supportoapp[.]com," which upon installation, requests intrusive permissions to enable the accessibility service and establishes communications with a C2 server to retrieve additional commands. Furthermore, the malware repeatedly reopens the Settings screen every eight seconds until the user turns on permissions for accessibility and device usage stati
Beware — A New Wormable Android Malware Spreading Through WhatsApp

Beware — A New Wormable Android Malware Spreading Through WhatsApp

January 24, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A newly discovered Android malware has been found to propagate itself through WhatsApp messages to other contacts in order to expand what appears to be an adware campaign. "This malware spreads via victim's WhatsApp by automatically replying to any received WhatsApp message notification with a link to [a] malicious Huawei Mobile app," ESET researcher Lukas Stefanko said. The link to the fake Huawei Mobile app, upon clicking, redirects users to a lookalike Google Play Store website. Once installed, the wormable app prompts victims to grant it notification access, which is then abused to carry out the wormable attack. Specifically, it leverages WhatApp's quick reply feature — which is used to respond to incoming messages directly from the notifications — to send out a reply to a received message automatically. Besides requesting permissions to read notifications, the app also requests intrusive access to run in the background as well as to draw over other apps,
Warning — 5 New Trojanized Android Apps Spying On Users In Pakistan

Warning — 5 New Trojanized Android Apps Spying On Users In Pakistan

January 12, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers took the wraps off a new spyware operation targeting users in Pakistan that leverages trojanized versions of legitimate Android apps to carry out covert surveillance and espionage. Designed to masquerade apps such as the Pakistan Citizen Porta l, a Muslim prayer-clock app called Pakistan Salat Time , Mobile Packages Pakistan , Registered SIMs Checker , and TPL Insurance , the malicious variants have been found to obfuscate their operations to stealthily download a payload in the form of an Android Dalvik executable (DEX) file. "The DEX payload contains most of the malicious features, which include the ability to covertly exfiltrate sensitive data like the user's contact list and the full contents of SMS messages," Sophos threat researchers Pankaj Kohli and Andrew Brandt said. "The app then sends this information to one of a small number of command-and-control websites hosted on servers located in eastern Europe." Interestingly, t
Experts Sound Alarm On New Android Malware Sold On Hacking Forums

Experts Sound Alarm On New Android Malware Sold On Hacking Forums

January 12, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers have exposed the operations of an Android malware vendor who teamed up with a second threat actor to market and sell a remote access Trojan (RAT) capable of device takeover and exfiltration of photos, locations, contacts, and messages from popular apps such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Skype, Telegram, Kik, Line, and Google Messages. The vendor, who goes by the name of " Triangulum " in a number of darknet forums, is alleged to be a 25-year-old man of Indian origin, with the individual opening up shop to sell the malware three years ago on June 10, 2017, according to an analysis published by Check Point Research today. "The product was a mobile RAT, targeting Android devices and capable of exfiltration of sensitive data from a C&C server, destroying local data – even deleting the entire OS, at times," the researchers said. An Active Underground Market for Mobile Malware Piecing together Triangulum's trail of activities, t
Iranian RANA Android Malware Also Spies On Instant Messengers

Iranian RANA Android Malware Also Spies On Instant Messengers

December 07, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
A team of researchers today unveiled previously undisclosed capabilities of an Android spyware implant—developed by a sanctioned Iranian threat actor—that could let attackers spy on private chats from popular instant messaging apps, force Wi-Fi connections, and auto-answer calls from specific numbers for purposes of eavesdropping on conversations. In  September , the US Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on APT39 (aka Chafer, ITG07, or Remix Kitten) — an Iranian threat actor backed by the country's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) — for carrying out malware campaigns targeting Iranian dissidents, journalists, and international companies in the telecom and travel sectors. Coinciding with the sanctions, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a public threat analysis  report  describing several tools used by Rana Intelligence Computing Company, which operated as a front for the malicious cyber activities conducted by the APT39 group. Formally lin
Several Unpatched Popular Android Apps Put Millions of Users at Risk of Hacking

Several Unpatched Popular Android Apps Put Millions of Users at Risk of Hacking

December 03, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
A number of high-profile Android apps are still using an unpatched version of Google's widely-used app update library, potentially putting the personal data of hundreds of millions of smartphone users at risk of hacking. Many popular apps, including Grindr, Bumble, OkCupid, Cisco Teams, Moovit, Yango Pro, Microsoft Edge, Xrecorder, and PowerDirector, are still vulnerable and can be hijacked to steal sensitive data, such as passwords, financial details, and e-mails. The bug, tracked as  CVE-2020-8913 , is rated 8.8 out of 10.0 for severity and impacts Android's Play Core Library versions prior to  1.7.2 . Although Google addressed the vulnerability in March,  new findings  from Check Point Research show that many third-party app developers are yet to integrate the new Play Core library into their apps to mitigate the threat fully. "Unlike server-side vulnerabilities, where the vulnerability is patched completely once the patch is applied to the server, for client-side
China's Baidu Android Apps Caught Collecting Sensitive User Data

China's Baidu Android Apps Caught Collecting Sensitive User Data

November 24, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Two popular Android apps from Chinese tech giant Baidu were temporarily unavailable on the Google Play Store in October after they were caught collecting sensitive user details. The two apps in question— Baidu Maps and Baidu Search Box —were found to collect device identifiers, such as the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number or MAC address, without users' knowledge, thus making them  potentially trackable  online. The  discovery  was made by network security firm Palo Alto Networks, who notified both Baidu and Google of their findings, after which the search company pulled the apps on October 28, citing "unspecified violations."  As of writing, a compliant version of Baidu Search Box has been restored to the Play Store on November 19, while Baidu Maps remains unavailable until the unresolved issues highlighted by Google are fixed. A separate app named Homestyler was also found to collect private information from users' Android devices. Accord
Facebook Messenger Bug Lets Hackers Listen to You Before You Pick Up the Call

Facebook Messenger Bug Lets Hackers Listen to You Before You Pick Up the Call

November 20, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Facebook has patched a bug in its widely installed Messenger app for Android that could have allowed a remote attacker to call unsuspecting targets and listen to them before even they picked up the audio call. The flaw was discovered and reported to Facebook by  Natalie Silvanovich  of Google's Project Zero bug-hunting team last month on October 6 with a 90-day deadline, and impacts version 284.0.0.16.119 (and before) of Facebook Messenger for Android. In a nutshell, the vulnerability could have granted an attacker who is logged into the app to simultaneously initiate a call and send a specially crafted message to a target who is signed in to both the app as well as another Messenger client such as the web browser. "It would then trigger a scenario where, while the device is ringing, the caller would begin receiving audio either until the person being called answers or the call times out," Facebook's Security Engineering Manager Dan Gurfinkel  said . According t
Google Removes 21 Malicious Android Apps from Play Store

Google Removes 21 Malicious Android Apps from Play Store

October 27, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Google has stepped in to remove several Android applications from the official Play Store following the disclosure that the apps in question were found to serve intrusive ads. The findings were  reported  by the Czech cybersecurity firm Avast on Monday, which said the 21 malicious apps (list  here ) were downloaded nearly eight million times from Google's app marketplace. The apps masqueraded as harmless gaming apps and came packed with  HiddenAds  malware, a notorious Trojan known for its capabilities to serve intrusive ads outside of the app. The group behind the operation relies on social media channels to lure users into downloading the apps. Earlier this June, Avast discovered a  similar HiddenAds campaign  involving 47 gaming apps with over 15 million downloads that were leveraged to display device-wide intrusive ads. "Developers of adware are increasingly using social media channels, like regular marketers would," Avast's Jakub Vávra said. "This time
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