avast! Virus Lab infographic shows how prolific and wide-spread Browser Ransomware attacks have been over the last three months.
During December I wrote about the tricks and tactics of Browser Ransomware. Browser Ransomware is malware that works in different types of browsers to prevent people from using their PCs. To get access back to their own PC, the victim of this malware must pay a ransom to unblock it. The key to success for this attack is its translations into many different languages, giving the cybercrooks a bigger pool of potential victims.
Today I would like to look back on Browser Ransomware attacks and share some data from our avast! CommunityIQ with you.
We detect Ransomware attacks using several different methods. The detections I checked were created January 30, 2014. I was really surprised at the huge impact this attack has had on AVAST users.
- In a little under 3 months, AVAST protected more than a half million unique users around the world from Ransomware attacks.
- In the past 6 weeks, AVAST users have unknowingly visited a site with Ransomware on it over 18 million times.
- During last 24 hours, AVAST stopped redirection from infected sites to sites hosting Ransomware for more than 18,000 unique users. Read more…
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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Today one of our colleagues came into our office and said, “Hey guys, I’ve been infected.” I thought to myself, yeah, how bad can this be? After a bit of digging we found the results were worth it; it turned out to be a really “interesting ” case of mobile redirected threats localized for each country.
All you need is one bad IP
The case was brought to us by Jakub Carda, a fellow AVAST employee who enjoys blogging in his free time. His WordPress site was compromised through a vulnerability in WordPress, more precisely OptimizePress. OptimizePress is a WordPress plugin that fully integrates itself into the WordPress CMS, helping bloggers optimize their blog’s design. A tiny mistake in the code of a file located in: lib/admin/media-upload.php made it possible for pretty much anyone to upload harmful content onto people’s WordPress sites, and plenty of websites have been compromised because of this.
For seven years, the CARO Workshop has been hosted in Europe. It is an outstanding technical meeting, attended by some of the best malware researchers in the world. In 2014, the CARO workshop comes to America. ~CARO’s conference official website
We are proud and happy to introduce you to our AVAST speakers and Security Experts from the Virus Lab. Peter Kálnai and Filip Chytrý are going to CARO’s (Computer Antivirus Research Organization) workshop to“Declare war against Android Malware.” We sat together and talked about their presentation, mobile malware, and general trends in the security industry.
Meet our security experts: Peter and Filip.
The theme for this year’s CARO conference is Mobile Space: Malware in a mobile world. As security experts, what changes and specific trends in malware development have you observed?
FILIP Well, this may sound cliché, but the amount of mobile threats are rising and more sophisticated attacks appear every day. A few years ago, we would observe mostly primitive malware with only one or two capabilities such as to send paid SMS or track your movements. Now, however we have malware that can root your phone and became a device administrator, or command and control Apps which take control of your device by attackers. That’s why I believe we can stay tuned for more conferences concentrated on Android malware. CARO is first, but hopefully not the last, conference focused on Android and mobile threats.
PETER I can’t recollect a different example, but this year’s CARO Workshop seems to be the first IT security conference completely devoted to mobile malware. The topic of our talk reflects trends in the Android threat landscape. Security experts nowadays observe an increased ratio of total malicious Android packages to unique malware families. Two particular cases appear most: The expansion of usage of Android packers and repackaging benign application with malicious code, so called piggybacking. Read more…
Do you know the notion “machine war”? If you’re a fan of the Matrix movie trilogy then probably, yes. It denotes the fictional rise of artificially intelligent machines against the human race and their violent conquest of human beings. We want to apply a similar dominance of computationally powerful machines, not to create a population of slaves, but against numerous malicious Android packages that wildly proliferate on unofficial markets.
The idea of malware detection with no human interaction appeared earlier on our blog. In a fundamental article about AVAST research activities by AVAST’s COO, Ondřej Vlček, he effectively described the technologies we employ to deal with Windows threats. Two techniques have been mentioned explicitly, Malware Similarity Search and Evo-Gen, both working with Windows PE file format. Sometimes the latter form of detection technique is denoted as weak automated anti-malware heuristic.
The main effort is to reach two slightly conflicting qualities at the same time: The robustness, which means that suggested methods cover as many threats as possible; and simplicity, so that the methods are easily implemented in AVAST’s mobile security solution. The search for balance between those qualities is assisted by lessons learned from automated heuristic for Windows PE executables.
In this blogpost we will look deep into a spam campaign, where unlike other possible scenarios, the victim is infected by opening and running an email attachment. In the beginning of this year, we blogged about a spam campaign with a different spam message – a fake email from the popular WhatsApp messenger. This time we will look at spam email which tries to convince the victim that it originates from his bank. The malicious email contains contents similar to the following one:
Subject: FW: Bank docs
We have received this documents from your bank, please review attached documents.
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’.
Malware which opens pictures of attractive women to entice its victims has been around for some time. Last month there were more than usual, so I decided to research malware that pretends to be a regular picture, and the results are pretty interesting.
We looked for executable samples with two distinct characteristics: 1. .jpg in their name, and 2. no older than the last three months. About 6,000 unique files which matched this criteria were found. From these samples, we noticed that pretending to be an image is not a family specific criteria but we identified that Win32:Zbot is represented more than other malware e.g. MSIL:Bladabindi-EV, Win32:Banker-JXB,BV:Bicololo-CY, etc.
The important message is that most of these samples are distributed by scams which are sent by email or posted on social media sites. An example of an email scam is pictures below. If you are interested in what the social media scam looks like and how to protect yourself, you should read one of our previous blog posts.
Recently, we discovered an account on GitHub, a service for software development projects, that has interesting contents. The account contains several projects; one of the latest ones is called Banks, and it has interesting source codes. The account contains information like user name, photo, and email address, but we cannot tell who the guy in the picture is. He might not be related to the contents at all, it could be a fake picture, fake name, or simply his account may have been hacked, his identity stolen, and the Banks repository created by someone else without his consent. In this blog post, we will explore the source codes in detail.
When we downloaded the repository, we found several directories – GoogleService and fake applications imitating mobile applications of five major Korean banks – NH Bank, Kookmin Bank, Hana Bank, ShinHan Bank and Woori Bank.
We previously published two blog posts with analyses of the above mentioned fake applications.
When we look at GitHub statistics, and Punchcard tab, it tells us what time the creators were most active. From the chart below you can see, that Saturday mornings and evenings and Sunday evenings were the most active times of comments of new versions. It seems that authors of this application do the development as a weekend job. At the time of writing this blogpost, the last update of fake bank applications was in the beginning of January 2014.
This is not the first attack against users of Korean banks. About a year ago, we published this analysis.
Github, the web-based hosting service for software development projects, offers a lot of interesting contents, which depending on its settings can be later found and accessed by virtually anyone, including Google robots. We managed to find the above mentioned repository by simply Googling the strings which occurred in a malicious Android application.
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Official app stores are the primary sources to finding and downloading apps. Experts advise users to stay within the official app stores as they are approved ecosystems, which are widely recognized as safe. But are these sources really trustworthy? Some experts, however, claim that “Android malware is non-existent and security companies just try to scare us. Keep calm and don‘t worry.“ So which is it?
We’ve already blogged about plenty of threats that sneak onto your device from trusted sources, but here we have a really fresh one, one that is still undetected by other security vendors. An Application called Cámara Visión Nocturna (package name: com.loriapps.nightcamera.apk), which is still available in the Google Play Store as I am writing this post, is something you definitely don’t want to have on your Android device.
Starting with the application’s permissions you might notice there are some unusual requests for an app that should be able to work only using your camera.
<uses-permission android:name=”android.permission.CAMERA” />