Menu
Trojanized Android apps flood third-party stores, compromise phones

Trojanized Android apps flood third-party stores, compromise phones

Malicious copies of the most popular Android apps are used to install persistent adware

Attackers are creating rogue versions of popular Android applications that compromise the security of devices and are extremely hard to remove.

Researchers from mobile security firm Lookout have found more than 20,000 samples of such trojanized apps. They're typically fully functional copies of top Android applications like Candy Crush, Facebook, Google Now, NYTimes, Okta, SnapChat, Twitter or WhatsApp, but with malicious code added to them.

The goal of these rogue apps is to aggressively display advertisements on devices. A scary development though is that, unlike traditional adware, they root the devices where they get installed in order to prevent users from removing them.

In the Android world, rooting a device refers to the process of obtaining administrative privileges -- the root account. An application with root access can break out of its restricted sandbox and take control over the entire device, its applications and data.

The good news is that these trojanized applications are mostly distributed through third-party app stores, so they pose no direct threat to users who only download apps from Google Play.

However, there are legitimate reasons for users to use third-party app stores, which often have apps that are not allowed in Google Play because they can't meet the store's various terms. Online gambling and porn apps are two examples.

Lookout recorded the highest number of detections for trojanized applications in countries like the U.S., Germany, Iran, Russia, India, Jamaica, Sudan, Brazil, Mexico, and Indonesia.

The researchers identified three separate families of adware apps that automatically root devices, dubbed Shedun, Shuanet, and ShiftyBug, which they believe could be related.

The attackers behind these threats likely uses automation to repackage the most popular legitimate apps from Google Play and upload them to less-policed, third-party stores. That would explain the large sample count.

"We expect this class of trojanized adware to continue gaining sophistication over time, leveraging its root privilege to further exploit user devices, allow additional malware to gain read or write privileges in the system directory, and better hide evidence of its presence and activities," the researchers said in a blog post.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Typically, the New Year brings new opportunities for personnel within the Kiwi channel. 2017 started no differently, with a host of appointments, departures and reshuffles across vendor, distributor and reseller businesses. As a result, the job scene across New Zealand has changed - here’s a run down of who is working where in the year ahead…

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel
​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

Digital Transformation (DX) has been a critical topic for business over the last few years and IDC is now predicting a step change as DX reaches macroeconomic levels. By 2020 a DX economy will emerge and it will become the core of what New Zealand industries focus on. From the board level through to the C-Suite, Kiwi organisations must be prepared to think and act digital when the DX economy emerges in 2017.

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?
Top 15 Kiwi tech storylines to follow in 2017

Top 15 Kiwi tech storylines to follow in 2017

​The New Year brings the usual new round of humdrum technology predictions, glaringly general, unashamedly safe and perpetually predictable. But while the industry no longer sees value in “cloud is now the norm” type projections, value can be found in following developments of the year previous, analysing behaviours and patterns to formulate a plan for the 12 months ahead. Consequently, here’s the top Kiwi tech storylines to follow in 2017...

Top 15 Kiwi tech storylines to follow in 2017
Show Comments