The dreaded Chameleon Android malware has been upgraded to give attackers the ability to disable the fingerprint unlock feature and steal people’s PIN codes, according to cybersecurity researchers from ThreatFabric.
As per the researchers, Chameleon is similar to other banking malware out there, abusing the Android Accessibility Service to steal sensitive information from endpoints and mount overlay attacks. This new version comes with two notable changes - the ability to mount Device Takeover (DTO) fraud, and the ability to transition the lock screen from biometrics to PIN.
With the first new ability, the malware will first scan to see if the OS is Android 13 or newer. If it is, it will prompt the user to turn on accessibility services. It will even guide them through the process, and once it’s done, it will perform unauthorized actions on the user's behalf.
Stealing PIN codes
"Upon receiving confirmation of Android 13 Restricted Settings being present on the infected device, the banking trojan initiates the loading of an HTML page," ThreatFabric’s researchers said. "The page is guiding users through a manual step-by-step process to enable the accessibility service on Android 13 and higher."
With the second new ability, Chameleon will use Android APIs to quietly change the lock screen authentication mechanism to a PIN, to allow the malware to unlock the phone as needed. For this feature to work, accessibility services need to be granted, as well.
"The emergence of the new Chameleon banking trojan is another example of the sophisticated and adaptive threat landscape within the Android ecosystem," the company said. "Evolving from its earlier iteration, this variant demonstrates increased resilience and advanced new features."
The new version has also expanded its scope, moving from Australia and Poland to other territories including the UK and Italy.
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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.