New Android spyware strain masquerades as COVID-19 tracking app

Hacking group also using pornographic clips to expand footprint on mobile devices, warns Kaspersky

A new form of Android spyware has been discovered that uses explicit content and the COVID-19 pandemic to instal remote access malware on mobile devices.

The malicious application is being distributed by a prolific hacking group based in India, dubbed "Transparent Tribe", according to Kaspersky researchers.

The cyber security vendor has been tracking the group for over four years and recent research suggested it had been working to improve its toolset and expand its operation – which now includes mobile threats.

Previous investigations into Transparent Tribe uncovered an Android implant it had distributed in India as either a pornographic clip or as part of a fake national COVID-19 tracking app.

The first application is a modified version of a simple open-source video player you can find on Android, according to Kaspersky. As it's installed, it uses an adult video to distract the user. The second application, known as "Aarogya Setu", is similar to the coronavirus tracking app developed by the government of India's National Informatics Centre – a department under the country's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

Once downloaded, both applications will attempt to install a modified version of an Android-based Remote Access Tool (RAT). This is malware that has been customised by the attackers to extract data.

The researchers spotted the connection between the group and the two applications thanks to the related domains the hackers used to host malicious files for its different campaigns.

"The new findings underline the efforts of the Transparent Tribe members to add new tools that expand their operations even further and reach their victims via different attack vectors, which now include mobile devices," said Giampaolo Dedola, a senior security researcher at Kaspersky's Global Research and Analysis Team.

"We also see that the actor is steadily working on improving and modifying the tools they use. To stay protected from such threats, users need to be more careful than ever in assessing the sources they download content from and make sure that their devices are secure. This is especially relevant to those who know that they might become a target of an APT attack."

Featured Resources

Managing security risk and compliance in a challenging landscape

How key technology partners grow with your organisation

Download now

Evaluate your order-to-cash process

15 recommended metrics to benchmark your O2C operations

Download now

AI 360: Hold, fold, or double down?

How AI can benefit your business

Download now

Getting started with Azure Red Hat OpenShift

A developer’s guide to improving application building and deployment capabilities

Download now

Recommended

Android malware vendor teams with marketer to promote new malware
malware

Android malware vendor teams with marketer to promote new malware

11 Jan 2021
Python-based malware steals Outlook files and browser credentials
malware

Python-based malware steals Outlook files and browser credentials

15 Dec 2020
Subway UK customers targeted by Trickbot hackers
hacking

Subway UK customers targeted by Trickbot hackers

14 Dec 2020
Power banks could infect your smartphone with malware
malware

Power banks could infect your smartphone with malware

9 Dec 2020

Most Popular

How to recover deleted emails in Gmail
email delivery

How to recover deleted emails in Gmail

6 Jan 2021
The fate of Parler exposes the reality of deregulated social media
Policy & legislation

The fate of Parler exposes the reality of deregulated social media

14 Jan 2021
Should IT departments call time on WhatsApp?
communications

Should IT departments call time on WhatsApp?

15 Jan 2021