Many Android devices had pre-installed backdoor: Google

Earlier this year, Forbes reported how a banking Trojan called Triada had been found on a bunch of brand new budget Android smartphones. Google has now confirmed that threat actors did, indeed, manage to compromise Android smartphones with the installation of a backdoor as part of a supply chain attack.

Two years later, on Thursday, Google has now admitted that criminals in 2017 indeed managed to get an advanced backdoor preinstalled on Android devices, even before these left the factories of manufacturers.

The list of affected devices includes Leagoo M5 Plus, Leagoo M8, Nomu S10 and Nomu S20.

To understand what has happened here, we need to go back to 2016 when Kaspersky Lab researchers first uncovered what they called one of the most advanced mobile Trojans Kaspersky malware analysts had ever seen. They named that Trojan "Triada" and explained how it existed mainly in the smartphone's random access memory (RAM) using root privileges to replace system files with malicious ones. Android phones were spotted to have Triada as a preloaded backdoor in 2017.

The firm, Dr. Web’s, researchers had found Triada embedded into one of the OS libraries and located in the system section. Not just that, the Trojan couldn’t be detected or deleted using standard methods.

Triada had, the researchers found, used a call in the Android framework log function instead. In other words, the infected devices had a backdoor installed. This meant that every time an app, any app, attempted to log something the function was called and that backdoor code executed. The Triada Trojan could now execute code in pretty much any app context courtesy of this backdoor; a backdoor that came factory-fitted.

The Mountain View, California-headquartered company initially removed Triada samples from all Android devices using Google Play Protect. But in 2017, it was found that Triada evolved and ultimately became a preloaded backdoor on Android devices. Notably, the latest phones aren't likely to be affected by what has been discovered by Google. The vulnerability did have an impact on various models in the past, though.

New OS takes on Apple, Android

Firefox, a web browser made by the non-profit Mozilla Foundation, was born as “Phoenix”. It rose from the ashes of Netscape Navigator, slain by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. In 2012 Mozilla created Firefox os, to rival Apple’s ios and Google’s Android mobile operating systems. Unable to compete with the duopoly, Mozilla killed the project.

Another phoenix has arisen from it. Kaios, an operating system conjured from the defunct software, powered 30m devices in 2017 and another 50m in 2018. Most were simple flip-phones sold in the West for about $80 apiece, or even simpler ones which Indians and Indonesians can have for as little as $20 or $7, respectively. Smartphones start at about $100. The company behind the software, also called Kaios and based in Hong Kong, designed it for smart-ish phones—with an old-fashioned number pad and long battery life, plus 4g connectivity, popular apps such as Facebook and modern features like contactless payments, but not snazzy touchscreens.

With millions of Indians still using feature phones, it’s no surprise that this brainchild of San Diego startup KaiOS Technologies is already the second most popular mobile operating system in Indiaafter Android, capturing over 16% market share. iOS is second with 10%share, as per an August 2018 analysis by tech consulting firm Device Atlas.

The new category of handsets powered by KaiOS, which has partnered with Reliance Jio, require limited memory while still offering a rich user experience through services like Google Assistant, Google Maps, YouTube, and Facebook, among others.

Faisal Kawoosa, founder, techARC, credits KaiOS with bringing about a paradigm shift in infotainment in India. “This (the feature phone platform) becomes the first exposure of mobile users to a digital platform. It is also helping the ecosystem and new users to digital services without much increase to the cost of the device,” he said.

Malicious Android Adware Infects Approximately 200 Apps on Play Store



 A monstrous adware campaign nicknamed "SimBad" was found to be in around 206 applications on Google Play Store, known to have been downloaded roughly 150 million times. Since most of them are simulation type games, thus the term 'SimBad' has been coined.

The designers of the applications may not be entitled totally to the blame as they also may have been baited by false promises. They may have not understood that they were utilizing a promotion related software development kit or SDK whose reason for existing is to install adware on devices.

Once an application infected by SimBad gets downloaded, the adware registers itself on the system with the goal that it can keep running on boot and from that point onwards, it can perform activities like opening a browser page to phish user information, open an application store including Google Play Store (to be specific) potentially malicious application, or even download and install an application in the background.

As per Security outfit Check Point, the applications perform different malicious behavior that the user's need to be wary of, including:
  1. Showing ads outside of the application, for when the user unlocks their phone or uses other apps.
  2. Constantly opening Google Play or 9Apps Store and redirecting to another particular application, so the developer can profit from additional installations.
  3. Hiding its icon from the launcher in order to prevent uninstallation.
  4. Opening a web browser with links provided by the app developer.
  5. Downloading APK files and asking the user to install it.
  6. Searching a word provided by the app in Google Play.

As a matter of fact, SimBad is less appalling than other malware that got away from Google's notice however it does as of now can possibly accomplish more harm as, according to Checkpoint, "SimBad' has abilities that can be divided into three groups namely - Show Ads, Phishing, and Exposure to other applications.

Keeping in mind the user privacy, Google has officially brought down the infected applications and will doubtlessly add the adware strain to Google Protect’s AI.


Hide and Seek Iot Botnet Increasing Infection Capabilities with New Vectors



The Hide and Seek IoT botnet has been updated to act against the Android devices and the criminal group behind its advancement and development has been seen to include a new functionality in recurring incremental optimizations to the fundamental engine.

The Android infections appear to be caused not by focusing on specific vulnerabilities, rather concentrating on maltreatment of the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) option. As a matter of course this is turned-off however at times users might need to turn it on.

The IoT botnet has been spotted to have added around 40 000 gadgets to its stockpile, the infected devices are for the most part from China, Korea and Taiwan. Numerous Android devices are currently part of the home infrastructure — phones, tablets, televisions and various peripherals. This is the motivation behind why attacks utilizing it are exceptionally viewed as critical.

Its samples concentrate on the devices that have set the ADB option on either as a matter of course or by the users themselves. At the point when this capacity is empowered the devices are uncovered as this opens a network port accessing remote connections. Malignant administrators have been spotted to perform unauthenticated login endeavors — utilizing either default passwords or 'brute forcing the devices'.

The attacks likewise prompt the conclusion that the criminal collective behind the botnet is always attempting to update its features. The tremendously expanded number of infected devices is apparent that the botnet is gaining more energy. Botnets are known to be quite efficient when it comes to launching conveyed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) which can render sites and PC systems non-working.

Chief Security Researcher at Bitdefender Alex Balan said that the botnet's purpose for the time being gives off an impression of being to increase its size and nothing more.
Despite the fact that it bolsters directions for data exfiltration and code execution the researchers have not seen them to be utilized by the botnet and additionally, there is no module for propelling dispersed denial-of-service attacks, an essential technique for botnet monetization.


Android Users To Surf The Web Without A Constant Internet Connection.




On the 21st of June Google presented a new feature for its Android devices that would give users the access in India and a few different nations to surf the web without the need of a steady Web connection.

Started for Chrome on Android clients in India alongside 100 other nations including Nigeria, Indonesia, and Brazil, the feature will enable the users to surf web in areas with no or spotty web connections.

“When you’re connected to free, unmetered Wi-Fi, Chrome will automatically download relevant articles, based on what content is most popular in your location,” said Amanda Boss, Product Manager, and Offline Chrome for Android. 

For users who are already signed in, Chrome will likewise reserve important and relevant articles in view of the perusing history with the goal that the user can read them when there is no web connection in the phone. This feature is now accessible in the most recent version of Chrome.

The feature case to set aside 70 per cent of the user’s data and with the data saver mode on, Chrome downloads the content that it assumes to be generally applicable.

At the point when the Data Saver is on, the most part of the web traffic goes through Google servers before being downloaded to that specific device and Google servers compress it so less data gets downloaded to the user's device.

Aside from this, Google likewise has a data saving application also that goes by the name of - Datally- it provides the user with a few different ways to control the data usage in their smartphones. The application accompanies highlights like: ability to set daily data usage limit, set a guest mode to see how much data a friend uses, highlighting the unused apps that may be eating up your data, data usage history, WiFi finder on map and many more.



Multilingual Malware Targets Android Devices for Phishing Attacks


A blog post titled 'Roaming Mantis uses DNS hijacking to infect Android smartphones' was published in April 2018, by the Kaspersky Lab, which spoke particularly about this Malware.

The malware i.e. Roaming Mantis utilizes Android malware which is intended to spread by means of DNS hijacking and targets Android gadgets specifically. This activity is said to be found for the most parts in Asia (South Korea, Bangladesh and Japan) in view of the telemetry data by the Kaspersky Lab.

Potential victims were supposedly redirected by DNS hijacking to a pernicious web page that distributed a Trojanized application spoofed Facebook or Chrome that is then installed by the users manually. The application in reality contained an Android Trojan-Banker.

Not long after their publication it was drawn out into the open that various other researchers were also additionally concentrated on this malware family. In May though, while the Roaming Mantis also known as MoqHao and XLoader, was being monitored, the scientists at the Kaspersky Lab observed some very significant changes in their M.O.

“The group’s activity expanded geographically and they broadened their attack/evasion methods. Their landing pages and malicious apk files now support 27 languages covering Europe and the Middle East. In addition to that, the criminals also added a phishing option for iOS devices, and crypto-mining capabilities for the PC.”

According to Kaspersky Lab's researcher Suguru Ishimaru, the last crusade including Roaming Mantis was likewise dissected by the Kaspersky Lab and the discoveries were point by point in its blog post "The Roaming Mantis campaign evolved significantly in a short period of time."

The attacks have been extended to around 27 different languages including English, Hindi, Russian, Chinese, and Hebrew. Initially the malware was dispersed in five dialects only however now the range has been extended by utilizing an automatic translator. The full rundown of dialects is available here : 


Roaming Mantis is likewise said to be well-equipped for stealing private and sensitive data and necessary related  information from Apple and Android phones while cryptocurrency mining is performed by the accretion of a special script present  in the malware's HTML source code, which gets executed at whatever point the browser is opened.