Threat groups relying on trojanized apps to spread surveillanceware

Apurva Kumar shows how Monokle is spreading its surveillanceware

Threat groups are increasingly relying on trojanized apps posing as legitimate versions. Instead of getting the app you’re looking for, your device gets a dose of surveillanceware. In an interview with Threatpost, Apurva Kumar, a security intelligence engineer at Lookout, shared how surveillanceware group Monokle is already employing this tactic.

Kumar first spoke about Monokle at this year’s RSA Conference. During the session, he gave attendees an inside look at the highly targeted Monokle surveillanceware and tied it to nation-states.

Kumar explained in the Threatpost interview, “We found after quite a bit of investigation, and after looking at Monokle for a couple of times, we found that the developer of Monokle is almost certainly a Russian defense contractor by the name of Special Technology Center or STC. And this developer appears to have a very good or very advanced Android development pipeline, they are most likely producing a number of different applications, Android apps, both on the defensive side and the offensive side. So they produce some defensive security solutions that are like basically an antivirus, as well, as a surveillanceware which we found called Monokle.”

Kumar continued, detailing how Monokle distributes its surveillanceware. By mimicking well-known applications, such as Skype or Signal, Monokle convinces users to trust the trojanized app enough to install it. Once installed, Monokle distributes malware across the unsuspecting users’ devices.

While it’s concerning that threat groups are using booby-trapped versions of popular apps to distribute surveillanceware, Kumar noted, “Threats are starting to move away from [the] simple installation of applications and starting to move more onto the device and device exploitation side. So definitely, as always, there will always be an increase in sophistication and complexity of these actors as they try to find new and novel ways of getting onto their targets’ device.”

Featured Resources

Unlocking collaboration: Making software work better together

How to improve collaboration and agility with the right tech

Download now

Four steps to field service excellence

How to thrive in the experience economy

Download now

Six things a developer should know about Postgres

Why enterprises are choosing PostgreSQL

Download now

The path to CX excellence for B2B services

The four stages to thrive in the experience economy

Download now

Recommended

What is a Trojan?
Security

What is a Trojan?

25 Feb 2021
Weakness in Mamba ransomware could help recover data
ransomware

Weakness in Mamba ransomware could help recover data

26 Mar 2021
Invoice ZLoader campaign hides within encrypted Excel docs
malware

Invoice ZLoader campaign hides within encrypted Excel docs

8 Mar 2021
MacBook users warned against EvilQuest ransomware
ransomware

MacBook users warned against EvilQuest ransomware

19 Feb 2021

Most Popular

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages
data centres

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages

7 Apr 2021
How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

8 Apr 2021
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro review: Champagne tastes on a lemonade budget
Mobile Phones

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro review: Champagne tastes on a lemonade budget

13 Apr 2021