In June 2014, we told you about mobile ransomware called Simplocker that actually encrypted files (before Simplocker, mobile ransomware only claimed to encrypt files to scare users into paying). Simplocker infected more than 20,000 unique users, locking Android devices and encrypting files located in the external storage. Then, it asked victims to pay a ransom in order to “free” the hijacked device. It was easy to decrypt the files affected by this variant of Simplocker, because the decryption key was hardcoded inside the malware and was not unique for each affected device.
Dangerous unique keys
But now there is a new, more sophisticated variant of Simplocker in town that has already infected more than 5,000 unique users within days of being discovered. The reason why this variant is more dangerous than its predecessor is that it generates unique keys for each infected device, making it harder to decrypt infected devices.
To use an analogy, the original variant of Simplocker used a “master key” to lock devices, which made it possible for us to provide a “copy of the master key” (in the form of an app, Avast Ransomware Removal) to unlock already infected devices. The new variant however, locks each device with a “different key” which makes it impossible to provide a solution that can unlock each infected device, because that would require us to “make copies” of all the different “keys”.
Why would anybody install Simplocker?!
The reason why people install this new variant of Simplocker is because it goes undercover, meaning people don’t even realize that what they are installing is ransomware!
In this case, the new variant of Simplocker uses the alias “Flash Player” and hides in malicious ads that are hosted on shady sites. These ads mostly “alert” users that they need Flash Player installed in order to watch videos. When the ad is clicked on, the malicious app gets downloaded, notifying the user to install the alleged Flash Player app. Android, by default, blocks apps from unofficial markets from being installed, which is why users are notified that the install is being blocked for security reasons.
Users should listen to Android’s advice. However, users can go into their settings to deactivate the block and download apps from unknown sources. Once installed, a “Flash Player” app icon appears on the device and when it is opened the “Flash Player” requests the user grant it administrator rights, which is when the trouble really begins.
As soon as the app is granted administrator rights, the malware uses social engineering to deceive the user into paying ransom to unlock the device and decrypt the files it encrypted. The app claims to be the FBI, warning the user that they have found suspicious files, violating copyright laws demanding the user pay a $200 fine to decrypt their files.
What should I do if I have been infected?
We do NOT recommend you pay the ransom. Giving into these tactics makes malware authors believe they are succeeding and encourages them to continue.
If you have been infected by this new strain of Simplocker, back up the encrypted files by connecting your smartphone to your computer. This will not harm your computer, but you may have to wait until a solution to decrypt these files has been found. Then boot your phone into safe mode, go into the administrator settings and remove the malicious app and uninstall the app from the application manager.
Avast protects users against Simplocker
Avast Mobile Security protects users against both the old and new variant of Simplocker, the new variant is detected as: Android:Simplocker-AA.
A more technical look under the hood:
As the fake FBI warning is being shown to users, the malware continues working in the background, doing the following: Read more…
Losing contacts from your mobile phone is highly inconvenient. There’s seems to be a solution - You can find them online! The catch? Your contacts are in a publicly accessible place.
If you care for your privacy you should always be suspicious about “Cloud Backup” solutions you find in the Google Play Store. The solution that is being analyzed here backs up your personal contacts online. In public.
Upon starting the application, you will find a screen where you can put your mobile number and a password of your choice. Then you can upload your contacts in the cloud.
A brief analysis inside this application shows us how exactly it backs up your contacts in the cloud. The contacts are associated with the phone number that you have given in the previous step and they are sent through HTTP POST requests in a PHP page.
Further analysis through IP traffic capturing with Fiddler helped usdiscover the results in the pictures above; a page located online, for anyone to see, that contains thousands of un-encrypted entries of phone numbers and passwords. Using the info in the app you can retrieve personal private data (contacts) from another user.
We found log in data inside those entries from countries like Greece, Brazil, and others
The Play Store page says that this app has been installed 50.000-100.000 times. This is a big number of installations for an application that doesn’t deliver the basic secure Android coding practices. The developer must use technologies like HTTPS, SSL and encryption on the data that are transferred through the web and stored in the server. Nogotofail is a useful network security testing tool designed by Google to “to help developers and security researchers spot and fix weak TLS/SSL connections and sensitive cleartext traffic on devices and applications in a flexible, scalable, powerful way.“
Avast detects it as Android:DataExposed-B [PUP].
Ransomware, which has already made its rounds on Windows, is now increasingly targeting the Android operating system. A new piece of mobile malware claiming to be the government under the name Android: Koler-A is now targeting users.
We have full control of your phone – give us $300 and we’ll give it back
The ransomware is pushed automatically from fake porn sites visited by Android users via a malicious .apk file that appears in the form of an app. The innocent appearance of the app deceives users and is a powerful social engineering tactic used by malware developers to trick people into installing malicious apps. The form of delivery is not the only thing that makes the app suspicious and potentially dangerous, but the access it seeks are highly unusual and alarming. The ransomware requests full network access, permission to run at startup and permission to prevent the phone from sleeping. Once installed the granted access allows the ransomware to take control of the device. The full network access allows the malicious app to communicate over the web and download the ransom message that is shown on the captive device. The permission to run at startup and prevent the phone from sleeping fully lockdown the phone, preventing victims from escaping the ransom message.
The ransomware localizes fake government messages, depending on the users GPS location, accusing them of having viewed and downloaded inappropriate and illegal content. What does the ransomware do next? Demands ransom of course! The ransom to regain access to the device including all of its apps, which it claims are all encrypted, is set at around $300 and is to be paid through untraceable forms of payment such as MoneyPak.
avast! Mobile Security safeguards against ransomware
Both AVAST’s free and premium mobile security apps, avast! Mobile Security and avast! Mobile Premium, protect customers from falling for the devious apps containing ransomware. AVAST detects this ransomware under the name Android: Koler-A and blocks its execution.
We recommend that everyone be cautious when downloading apps, especially from unofficial app markets. We also urge users to not open any files that have been downloaded to their device without their consent. Always check what apps want to access and in addition to being cautious, we advise people download antivirus to protect their devices. This new ransomware appearing on Android is the perfect example of how malware is starting to move away from the PC environment and into our pockets and there are no signs of this slowing down.
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Does the title of this blog post have a mysterious meaning? Not exactly.
In this first part about the gray-zone of Android malware detections, I will introduce the Android:SecApk, a detection regarding the protection that the App Shield (Bangcle) offers to Android applications (.apk). This detection has a big sample set that is still growing. Some SecApk wrapped samples that existed or still exist in the Google Play Store and third party stores, can be seen in the table below.
Name \ Info
\ PUP – An application to promote a specific movie. Potentially unwanted because of the extended permissions that was requested.
Current Status: Removed from Google Play
\PUP – A game that have potentially unwanted permissions that they can drive to loss of private personal info.
\PUP – A screensaver application that has permissions unrelated with the purpose of the app.
\Pup – This application is a tennis game. Potentially unwanted because of the extended permissions that was requested.
\Malware – This app steal personal data and SMS messages from the user.
The App Shield is an online service that, after a submission of an .apk, encrypts it and adds some layers of protection. The procedure of the encryption and protection of the apk will be discussed with more detail during the course of the second part of this blog post.
Starting with the submission process, a clean app named AvstTest.apk uploaded to the service. The exported .apk was renamed as AvstTest[SecApk].apk. In addition, apktool and dex2jar used accordingly to decode the .apk resources and convert the ‘.dex’ files to ‘.jar’.