Even after many efforts made by Google last year, malicious apps always somehow manage to make their ways into Google app store.
Security researchers have now discovered a new piece of malware, dubbed GhostTeam, in at least 56 applications on Google Play Store that is designed to steal Facebook login credentials and aggressively display pop-up advertisements to users.
Discovered independently by two cybersecurity firms, Trend Micro and Avast, the malicious apps disguise as various utility (such as the flashlight, QR code scanner, and compass), performance-boosting (like file-transfer and cleaner), entertainment, lifestyle and video downloader apps.
Once installed, it first confirms if the device is not an emulator or a virtual environment and then accordingly downloads the malware payload, which prompts the victim to approve device administrator permissions to gain persistence on the device.
“The downloader app collects information about the device, such as unique device ID, location, language and display parameters,” Avast said. “The device’s location is obtained from the IP address that is used when contacting online services that offer geolocation information for IPs.”
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As soon as users open their Facebook app, the malware immediately prompts them to re-verify their account by logging into Facebook. Instead of exploiting any system or application vulnerabilities, the malware uses a classic phishing scheme in order to get the job done.
These fake apps simply launch a WebView component with Facebook look-alike login page and ask users to log-in. Apparently, WebView code steals the victim’s Facebook username and password and sends them to a remote hacker-controlled server.
“This is most likely due to developers using embedded web browsers (WebView, WebChromeClient) in their apps, instead of opening the webpage in a browser,” Avast said.
Trend Micro researchers warn that these stolen Facebook credentials can later be repurposed to deliver “far more damaging malware” or “amass a zombie social media army” to spread fake news or generate cryptocurrency-mining malware.
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