APT Targets Android

Thursday, August 2, 2012 @ 05:08 PM gHale

Windows long has been a favorite and easy target, but new research shows as mobile devices are becoming more important in the day-to-day play in the workforce, attackers are also setting their sites on mobile platforms, with Android leading the pack.

The attackers behind the recent Luckycat advanced persistent threat (APT)-type attack campaign are in the process of developing malware aimed at the Android, a researcher with Trend Micro said at Defcon in Las Vegas.

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Luckycat, an attack campaign with ties to Chinese hackers, targets Indian and Japanese military research institutions and the Tibetan community. Last year it also began targeting Mac OS X users.

Trend Micro researchers found two Android apps in the early phase of development that can communicate with Luckycat’s command-and-control (C&C) server. The malware is currently capable of gathering information on the mobile device and uploading and downloading files as directed by the C&C server. Some of the features, including remote shell, are still under construction, and it’s unclear just how the attackers plan to infect victims with the mobile malware, Trend Micro said.

“We don’t know if it has been used or is spreading widely. It might be a proof-of-concept, and it was also possibly already used — when there’s only one infected victim, we may not see it,” said Raimund Genes, CTO at Trend Micro.

The Luckycat Android malware also has the classic APT element, a remote access Trojan (RAT). “So it’s a typical spy tool — for the Android. This is the first evidence of targeted attacks not only on Windows and Mac OS X, but on Android” as well, Genes said.
The Luckycat Android APT malware is a file infector, so it works on all Android platforms, Genes said.

“You don’t need root access to hijack every SMS and change messages before [the victim] reads them, or to get online banking [credentials],” he says. “You don’t need root access to switch on the mike … it all depends on what the attacker wants to do. You could hide an advanced threat in the OS.”

It’s possible the attackers will use SMS messages or email with malicious URLs that download the app onto the targeted Android, according to Trend Micro. “This can be accomplished via social engineering lures designed to lead targets into downloading and installing the app. The attackers can combine these methods with a drive-by exploit that silently installs the malicious app in the target’s device,” Trend Micro said in a report on the findings.

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