New Malware Targets Banking App, Steals Log-in Details, 2-Way Authentication – NCC CSIRT 

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SMS based malware, phone cybercrime

The Nigerian Communications Commission’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (NCC CSIRT) has discovered a newly-hatched malicious software that steals users’ banking app login credentials on Android devices.

According to a security advisory from the NCC CSIRT, the malicious software, Xenomorph, which targets 56 financial institutions in Europe, has a high impact and high vulnerability rate. The main intent of this malware is to steal credentials, combined with the use of SMS and notification interception to log in and use potential 2-factor authentication tokens.

Xenomorph is propagated by an application that was slipped into Google Play store and masquerading as a legitimate application called “Fast Cleaner” ostensibly meant to clear junk, increase device speed and optimise battery. In reality, this app is only a means by which the Xenomorph Trojan could be propagated easily and efficiently.

To avoid early detection or being denied access to the PlayStore, “Fast Cleaner” was disseminated before the malware was placed on the remote server, making it hard for Google to determine that such an app is being used for malicious actions. 

Once up and running on a victim’s device, Xenomorph can harvest device information and short messaging service (SMS), intercept notifications and new SMS messages, perform overlay attacks and prevent users from uninstalling it. The threat also asks for accessibility services’ privileges, which allow it to grant itself further permissions.

The CSIRT said the malware also steals victims’ banking credentials by overlaying fake login pages on top of legitimate ones. Considering that it can also intercept messages and notifications, it allows its operators to bypass SMS-based two-factor authentication and log into the victims’ accounts without alerting them.

“Xenomorph has been found to target 56 internet banking apps, 28 from Spain, 12 from Italy, 9 from Belgium and 7 from Portugal, as well as cryptocurrency wallets and general-purpose applications like e-mail services.

The ‘Fast Cleaner’ app has now been removed from the Play Store but not before it garnered 50,000+ downloads,” the CSIRT security advisory noted.

In a statement by the commission’s director, public affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, the commission advised telecom consumers to be on alert, not to fall victim to the manipulation.

Accordingly, the NCC urged telecom consumers and other Internet users, particularly those using Android-powered devices, to use trusted anti-virus solutions and update them regularly to their latest definitions. The Commission also implored consumers and other stakeholders to always update banking applications to their most recent versions.

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