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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: Android

Over 10 Million Android Users Targeted With Premium SMS Scam Apps

Over 10 Million Android Users Targeted With Premium SMS Scam Apps

October 26, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A global fraud campaign has been found leveraging 151 malicious Android apps with 10.5 million downloads to rope users into premium subscription services without their consent and knowledge. The  premium SMS scam  campaign — dubbed " UltimaSMS " — is believed to commenced in May 2021 and involved apps that cover a wide range of categories, including keyboards, QR code scanners, video and photo editors, spam call blockers, camera filters, and games, with most of the fraudulent apps downloaded by users in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the U.A.E., Turkey, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, the U.S., and Poland. Although a significant  chunk of the apps  in question has since been removed from the Google Play Store, 82 of them have continued to remain available in the online marketplace as of October 19, 2021. It all starts with the apps prompting users to enter their phone numbers and email addresses to gain access to the advertised features, only to subscribe the victims to premium SM
Facebook Releases New Tool That Finds Security and Privacy Bugs in Android Apps

Facebook Releases New Tool That Finds Security and Privacy Bugs in Android Apps

September 29, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Facebook on Wednesday announced it's open-sourcing  Mariana Trench , an Android-focused static analysis platform the company uses to detect and prevent security and privacy bugs in applications created for the mobile operating system at scale. "[Mariana Trench] is designed to be able to scan large mobile codebases and flag potential issues on  pull requests  before they make it into production," the Menlo Park-based social tech behemoth said . In a nutshell, the utility allows developers to frame rules for different data flows to scan the codebase for in order to unearth potential issues — say,  intent   redirection   flaws  that could result in the leak of sensitive data or injection vulnerabilities that would allow adversaries to insert arbitrary code — explicitly setting boundaries as to where user-supplied data entering the app is allowed to come from (source) and flow into (sink) such as methods that can execute code and retrieve or interact with user data. Dat
Hackers Targeting Brazil's PIX Payment System to Drain Users' Bank Accounts

Hackers Targeting Brazil's PIX Payment System to Drain Users' Bank Accounts

September 29, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Two newly discovered malicious Android applications on Google Play Store have been used to target users of Brazil's instant payment ecosystem in a likely attempt to lure victims into fraudulently transferring their entire account balances into another bank account under cybercriminals' control. "The attackers distributed two different variants of banking malware, named PixStealer and MalRhino , through two separate malicious applications […] to carry out their attacks," Check Point Research said in an analysis shared with The Hacker News. "Both malicious applications were designed to steal money of victims through user interaction and the original PIX application." The two apps in question, which were uncovered in April 2021, have since been removed from the app store. Launched in November 2020 by the Central Bank of Brazil, the country's monetary authority,  Pix  is a state-owned payments platform that enables consumers and companies to make mone
New Android Malware Steals Financial Data from 378 Banking and Wallet Apps

New Android Malware Steals Financial Data from 378 Banking and Wallet Apps

September 27, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
The operators behind the BlackRock mobile malware have surfaced back with a new Android banking trojan called  ERMAC  that targets Poland and has its roots in the infamous Cerberus malware, according to the latest research. "The new trojan already has active distribution campaigns and is targeting 378 banking and wallet apps with overlays," ThreatFabric's CEO Cengiz Han Sahin said in an emailed statement. First campaigns involving ERMAC are believed to have begun in late August under the guise of the Google Chrome app. Since then, the attacks have expanded to include a range of apps such as banking, media players, delivery services, government applications, and antivirus solutions like  McAfee . Almost fully based on the notorious banking trojan  Cerberus , the Dutch cybersecurity firm's findings come from forum posts made by an actor named DukeEugene last month on August 17, inviting prospective customers to "rent a new android botnet with wide functionalit
New Android Malware Targeting US, Canadian Users with COVID-19 Lures

New Android Malware Targeting US, Canadian Users with COVID-19 Lures

September 23, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
An "insidious" new SMS smishing malware has been found targeting Android mobile users in the U.S. and Canada as part of an ongoing campaign that uses SMS text message lures related to COVID-19 regulations and vaccine information in an attempt to steal personal and financial data. Proofpoint's messaging security subsidiary Cloudmark coined the emerging malware "TangleBot." "The malware has been given the moniker TangleBot because of its many levels of obfuscation and control over a myriad of entangled device functions, including contacts, SMS and phone capabilities, call logs, internet access, and camera and microphone," the researchers  said . Besides capabilities to obtain sensitive information, the malware is engineered to control device interaction with banking or financial apps using overlay screens and plunder account credentials from financial activities initiated on the phones. The attacks themselves originate from SMS messages that claim
Google to Auto-Reset Unused Android App Permissions for Billions of Devices

Google to Auto-Reset Unused Android App Permissions for Billions of Devices

September 19, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Google on Friday said it's bringing an Android 11 feature that auto-resets permissions granted to apps that haven't been used in months, to devices running Android versions 6 and above. The expansion is expected to go live later this year in December 2021 and enabled on Android phones with Google Play services running Android 6.0 (API level 23) or higher, which the company said should cover "billions more devices." Google officially released Android 6.0 Marshmallow on October 5, 2015. With Android 11 that came out last year, the internet giant introduced a permission auto-reset option that helps improve user privacy by automatically resetting an app's permissions to access sensitive features like storage or camera if the app in question is left unopened for a few months. "Some apps and permissions are automatically exempted from revocation, like active Device Administrator apps used by enterprises, and permissions fixed by enterprise policy," Google
New Android Malware Uses VNC to Spy and Steal Passwords from Victims

New Android Malware Uses VNC to Spy and Steal Passwords from Victims

July 29, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A previously undocumented Android-based remote access trojan (RAT) has been found to use screen recording features to steal sensitive information on the device, including banking credentials, and open the door for on-device fraud. Dubbed "Vultur" due to its use of Virtual Network Computing (VNC)'s remote screen-sharing technology to gain full visibility on targeted users, the mobile malware was distributed via the official Google Play Store and masqueraded as an app named "Protection Guard," attracting over 5,000 installations. Banking and crypto-wallet apps from entities located in Italy, Australia, and Spain were the primary targets. "For the first time we are seeing an Android banking trojan that has screen recording and keylogging as the main strategy to harvest login credentials in an automated and scalable way," researchers from ThreatFabric  said  in a write-up shared with The Hacker News. "The actors chose to steer away from the commo
Google now requires app developers to verify their address and use 2FA

Google now requires app developers to verify their address and use 2FA

June 29, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Google on Monday announced  new measures  for the Play Store, including requiring developer accounts to turn on 2-Step Verification (2SV), provide an address, and verify their contact details later this year. The new identification and two-factor authentication requirements are a step towards strengthening account security and ensuring a safe and secure app marketplace, Google Play Trust and Safety team said. As part of the changes, individual users and businesses in possession of Google Play developer accounts will be asked to specify an account type (personal or organization), a contact name, their physical address, as well as verifying the email address and phone number provided during account creation. In addition, the search giant is also mandating users of Google Play Console to sign in using Google's 2-Step Verification to prevent account takeover attacks. According to the timeline shared by Google, developer account owners will be able to declare their account type a
DroidMorph Shows Popular Android Antivirus Fail to Detect Cloned Malicious Apps

DroidMorph Shows Popular Android Antivirus Fail to Detect Cloned Malicious Apps

June 21, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A new research published by a group of academics has found that anti-virus programs for Android continue to remain vulnerable against different permutations of malware, in what could pose a serious risk as malicious actors evolve their toolsets to better evade analysis. "Malware writers use stealthy mutations (morphing/obfuscations) to continuously develop malware clones, thwarting detection by signature based detectors," the researchers  said . "This attack of clones seriously threatens all the mobile platforms, especially Android." The findings were published in a study last week by researchers from Adana Science and Technology University, Turkey, and the National University of Science and Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan. Unlike iOS, apps can be downloaded from third-party sources on Android devices, raising the possibility that unwitting users can install unverified and lookalike apps that clone a legitimate app's functionality but are built to trick tar
Google to Let Android Users Opt-Out to Stop Ads From Tracking Them

Google to Let Android Users Opt-Out to Stop Ads From Tracking Them

June 04, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Google is tightening its privacy practices that could make it harder for apps on Android phones and tablets to track users who have opted out of receiving personalized interest-based ads. The change will go into effect sometime in late 2021. The development, which mirrors Apple's move to enable iPhone and iPad users to opt-out of ad tracking, was first  reported  by the Financial Times.  Once the revised policy goes live, Google is expected to completely cut off developers' access to the so-called "Advertising IDs," showing a "string of zeros" in its place. The Google Advertising ID (AAID), analogous to Apple's  IDFA , is a unique device identifier that can be used by app developers to track users as they move between apps to target ads better and measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. "Starting in late 2021, when a user opts out of interest-based advertising or ads personalization, the advertising identifier will not be available,&q
Android Issues Patches for 4 New Zero-Day Bugs Exploited in the Wild

Android Issues Patches for 4 New Zero-Day Bugs Exploited in the Wild

May 19, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Google on Wednesday updated its May 2021 Android Security Bulletin to disclose that four of the security vulnerabilities that were patched earlier this month by Arm and Qualcomm may have been exploited in the wild as zero-days. "There are indications that CVE-2021-1905, CVE-2021-1906, CVE-2021-28663 and CVE-2021-28664 may be under limited, targeted exploitation," the search giant  said  in an updated alert. The four flaws impact  Qualcomm Graphics  and  Arm Mali GPU Driver  modules — CVE-2021-1905  (CVSS score: 8.4) - A use-after-free flaw in Qualcomm's graphics component due to improper handling of memory mapping of multiple processes simultaneously. CVE-2021-1906  (CVSS score: 6.2) - A flaw concerning inadequate handling of address deregistration that could lead to new GPU address allocation failure. CVE-2021-28663  (CVSS score: NA) - A vulnerability in Arm Mali GPU kernel that could permit a non-privileged user to make improper operations on GPU memory, leading
Experts Reveal Over 150 Ways to Steal Control of 58 Android Stalkerware Apps

Experts Reveal Over 150 Ways to Steal Control of 58 Android Stalkerware Apps

May 18, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A total of 158 privacy and security issues have been identified in 58 Android stalkware apps from various vendors that could enable a malicious actor to take control of a victim's device, hijack a stalker's account, intercept data, achieve remote code execution, and even frame the victim by uploading fabricated evidence. The new findings, which come from an analysis of 86 stalkerware apps for the Android platform undertaken by Slovak cybersecurity firm ESET, highlight the unintended consequences of a practice that's not only unethical but in the process could also expose private and intimate information of the victims and leave them at risk of cyberattacks and fraud. "Since there could be a close relationship between stalker and victim, the stalker's private information could also be exposed," ESET researcher Lukas Stefanko  said  in a Monday write-up. "During our research, we identified that some stalkerware keeps information about the stalkers using
Experts warn of a new Android banking trojan stealing users' credentials

Experts warn of a new Android banking trojan stealing users' credentials

May 11, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers on Monday disclosed a new Android trojan that hijacks users' credentials and SMS messages to facilitate fraudulent activities against banks in Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Called " TeaBot " (or Anatsa), the malware is said to be in its early stages of development, with malicious attacks targeting financial apps commencing in late March 2021, followed by a rash of infections in the first week of May against Belgium and Netherlands banks. The first signs of TeaBot activity emerged in January. "The main goal of TeaBot is stealing victim's credentials and SMS messages for enabling frauds scenarios against a predefined list of banks," Italian cybersecurity and online fraud prevention firm Cleafy said in a Monday write-up. "Once TeaBot is successfully installed in the victim's device, attackers can obtain a live streaming of the device screen (on demand) and also interact with it via Accessibility Serv
4 Major Privacy and Security Updates From Google You Should Know About

4 Major Privacy and Security Updates From Google You Should Know About

May 07, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Google has announced a number of user-facing and under-the-hood changes in an attempt to boost privacy and security, including rolling out two-factor authentication automatically to all eligible users and bringing iOS-styled privacy labels to Android app listings. "Today we ask people who have enrolled in  two-step verification  (2SV) to confirm it's really them with a simple tap via a Google prompt on their phone whenever they sign in," the company  said . "Soon we'll start automatically enrolling users in 2SV if their accounts are appropriately configured." Google Play To Get Apple-Like Privacy Labels The Google Play Store for Android is also getting a huge overhaul on the privacy front. The search giant said it plans to include a new  safety section  for app listings that highlights the type of data being collected and stored — such as approximate or precise location, contacts, personal information, photos and videos, and audio files — and how the dat
New Qualcomm Chip Bug Could Let Hackers Spy On Android Devices

New Qualcomm Chip Bug Could Let Hackers Spy On Android Devices

May 06, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers have disclosed a new security vulnerability in Qualcomm's mobile station modems (MSM) that could potentially allow an attacker to leverage the underlying Android operating system to slip malicious code into mobile phones, undetected. "If exploited, the vulnerability would have allowed an attacker to use Android OS itself as an entry point to inject malicious and invisible code into phones, granting them access to SMS messages and audio of phone conversations," researchers from Israeli security firm Check Point  said  in an analysis published today. The heap overflow vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2020-11292 , resides in the QMI voice service API exposed by the modem to the high level operating system, and could be exploited by a malicious app to conceal its activities "underneath" the OS in the modem chip itself, thus making it invisible to the security protections built into the device. Designed since the 1990s, Qualcomm  MSM  chip
Attention! FluBot Android Banking Malware Spreads Quickly Across Europe

Attention! FluBot Android Banking Malware Spreads Quickly Across Europe

April 28, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Attention, Android users! A banking malware capable of stealing sensitive information is "spreading rapidly" across Europe, with the U.S. likely to be the next target. According to a new analysis by  Proofpoint , the threat actors behind FluBot (aka  Cabassous ) have branched out beyond Spain to target the U.K., Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Poland. The English-language campaign alone has been observed to make use of more than 700 unique domains, infecting about 7,000 devices in the U.K. In addition, German and English-language SMS messages were found being sent to U.S. users from Europe, which Proofpoint suspects could be the result of malware propagating via contact lists stored on compromised phones. A concerted campaign aimed at the U.S. is yet to be detected. FluBot, a nascent entry in the banking trojan landscape, began its operations late last year, with campaigns leveraging the malware infecting more than 60,000 users in Spain, according to an analysis published b
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
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