Cybersecurity researchers from McAfee hae uncovered over a dozen malicious apps lurking in the Google Play Store.
The researchers claim these apps were carrying a potent piece of malware, capable of stealing sensitive data from the infected Android devices and possibly even running ad fraud.
The apps were downloaded at least 330,000 times.
According to the researchers, the backdoor is called “Xamalicious”, and has so far been discovered in thee following apps:
- Essential Horoscope for Android – 100,000 installs
- 3D Skin Editor for PE Minecraft – 100,000 installs
- Logo Maker Pro – 100,000 installs
- Auto Click Repeater – 10,000 installs
- Count Easy Calorie Calculator – 10,000 installs
- Dots: One Line Connector – 10,000 installs
- Sound Volume Extender – 5,000 installs
After being labeled as malicious, Google removed these apps from its app repository.
While Google's action is commendable, the move doesn’t protect users who already downloaded the apps in the past, with some reportedly having been available for download since mid-2020. They will have to remove those manually and use an anti-virus program or cleaner to remove up any loose ends.
The majority of the victims were found in the US, the UK, Germany, Spain, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina.
To operate properly, the malware asks the victim to grant it Accessibility Service permissions, which is often a red flag and should help most people identify a malicious app from a legitimate one.
That being said, with Accessibility enabled, the malware is able to grab device and hardware information, including Android ID, brand, CPU, model, OS version, language, developer options status, SIM details, and firmware. Furthermore, it can identify the device’s physical location, ISP name, organization, and services. It also comes with a few features to help it determine if it’s installed on a genuine device or an emulator.
Finally, the malware can pull a second-stage payload from the C2 server.
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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.