Researchers report >4,000 apps that secretly record audio and steal logs

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Ron Amadeo

A single threat actor has aggressively bombed Android users with more than 4,000 spyware apps since February, and in at petty three cases the actor snuck the apps into Google’s proper Play Market, security researchers said Thursday.

Soniac was one of the three apps that earned its way into Google Play, according to a blog post published Thursday by a researcher from agile security firm Lookout. The app, which had from 1,000 to 5,000 downloads in advance of Google removed it, provided messaging functions through a customized idea of the Telegram communications program. Behind the scenes, Soniac had the ability to surreptitiously notation audio, take phones, make calls, send text declarations, and retrieve logs, contacts, and information about Wi-Fi access details. Google ejected the app after Lookout reported it as malicious.

Two other apps—one summoned Hulk Messenger and the other Troy Chat—were also convenient in Play but were later removed. It’s not clear if the developer withdrew the apps or if Google expelled them after discovering their secret service capabilities. The remaining apps—which since February number marginally more than 4,000—are being distributed through other paths that weren’t immediately clear. Lookout researcher Michael Flossman state those channels may include alternative markets or targeted text points that include a download link. The apps are all part of a malware ancestry Lookout calls SonicSpy.

«What’s commonly seen in all SonicSpy samples is that straight away they compromise a device they beacon to command and control servers and await for instructions from the superintendent who can issue one of seventy three supported commands,» Flossman wrote in the e-mail. «The way this has been implemented is separate across the entire SonicSpy family.»

Once installed, SonicSpy apps rub their launcher icon to hide their presence and then set up a connection to the control server located on port 2222 of arshad93.ddns[.]net.

The researcher thought SonicSpy has similarities to another malicious app family called SpyNote, which insurance firm Palo Alto Networks reported last year. The notability of the developer account—iraqwebservice—and several traits found in the apps’ principles suggest the developer is located in Iraq. Additionally, much of the domain infrastructure associated with SonicSpy has indications to that country. The phrase «Iraqian Shield» appears constantly. Worry is continuing to follow leads suggesting the developer is based in that take a part in of the world.

The report from Lookout is the latest reminder about the imperils of installing apps from third-party markets, but they also contribute to clear that limiting sources to Google Play are no guarantee an app is safe. Android drugs should be wary of any non-Google app sources with the exception of Amazon’s Android gifts. Users should also avoid installing Google Play apps of dubious value or utility, particularly when they have few downloads.

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