In early May, researchers disclosed a Mobile malware campaign by a group focused on Middle Eastern targets. This actor was found to be an evolving and sophisticated group using fake Android apps, namely Telegram, to trick users into installing malicious software. They have been active since 2015 and evolved over several campaigns into 2018. On May 14, a Reddit post linked to LamePT, claiming to have leaked their infrastructure including a database containing victim information.
The current leaked assets include:
- MYSQL database
- Audio recordings
- The old C2 server and assets
- AppData folder (presumably of the C2 server)
- Current C2 server and control panel
Further leaked documents are behind a paywall payable to a fresh bitcoin address. The first payment was made on May 13th, 2018 leaving a balance of $1,110.87. It’s difficult to verify if someone paid to have the first dataset released or the actor paid themselves to appear more authentic. With that said, the authenticity of the data is still in question as we have some significant doubts on at least a portion of the data. For example, the following SMS caught our attention:
“Wife.how she knew the time of murder exactly”.
This text can be found in an SMS spam dataset used for training spam engines. Many other English based SMS messages can also be found here. “will be office around 4 pm. Now I am going hospital” is another example. Universities tend to use these datasets to teach computer science concepts. In this case, the concept is likely related to machine learning techniques for categorizing messages into spam. One university came up often when searching for these messages based on its Computer Science I: Fundamentals homework postings. Other messages could be found in cached websites.
“Credit shuma ka mast jahat ezdiad credit ba hesab tan shumarai 222 ra dair namoda w aba taqeeb aan code 14 raqami ra dakhel nomaed .”
This translates to “Credit card is not available for sale at 222 days or less than 142 days.” and found cached in a language translation site. This particular phrase was being translated from Turkish to Urdu. Not all of the messages were found publicly online. Most of the messages were in Middle Eastern languages presenting its own challenges. Other sources were found such as Facebook posts; however, sources for the vast majority of the SMS message have not yet been located. For these reasons, we remain skeptical of the authenticity of the data.
Other data such as the recordings do not appear to be publicly available. After sampling 100 of these files we’ve found them to sound like authentic recordings. The majority are in 7 minute 59 second .3gpp files. Most appear to be ambient conversations and daily activities and not phone calls as was expected. Searching for public audio is difficult but we can verify that the hashes of the 100 are not publicly indexed by major search engines nor are the file names themselves.
Until we know for certain whether the data is authentic we cannot grantee that this data dump represents ZooPark and its capabilities but we can look at what they could be up to. After reviewing the leaked MySQL database we’ve learned much about the ZooPark’s potential operations.
From the table names alone, we can infer a lot of the access ZooPark had to user devices and the data they were after. Call tracing, phonebook access, and SMS tracking are unfortunately very common to collect amongst malicious app developers. However, audio tracking caught our attention. While we are still analyzing the dataset, the database records indicate over 102,571 recordings have been uploaded to their C2 server between 2015 and 2018. The dump contains approximately 3,887 of these, jeopardizing private and potentially highly sensitive conversations. Our sampling of these files indicate that the audio was recorded in roughly 8-minute blocks. Most, but not all audio files took place with time gaps between them. There was at least one group conversation that continued on for at least 3 recorded blocks. A surprisingly low number of phone numbers generated these recordings. Only eight phone numbers are part of the recording available through this data dump.
Other conversations were also captured such as SMS texts although portions of these have been found publicly in open datasets. Conceivably, these could have been generated by researchers investigating the malicious Android apps but it’s more likely they were generated by the data leaker to sell the dump. The SMS texts contain much of what you expect such as general chat, and advertisements. However, it’s also riddled with embarrassing or explicit texts which could be used against the users should they prove legitimate. Additionally, we’ve found cleartext two-factor authentication messages from major services such as Google and LinkedIn, and popular chat apps such as Telegram. ZooPark could have used these to gain access to additional services unbeknownst to the victims. After attempting and failing to rebuild several English based conversations we have little confidence that the entire data set came from ZooPark. However, It does exemplify the real danger of sensitive conversations being collected by Zoopark and available for their operations.
Another surprising find is in the Appinfotracking table, where there are 1541 unique apps listed, indicating a very large campaign. Here are a few notable ones:
There were relatively few games listed compared to other social and utility apps, perhaps suggesting a more utilitarian or professional target. Approximately, 92 phone numbers are listed in relation to the apps. Of the GPS coordinates we’ve checked the middle east is still the main focus, with a significant footprint in Egypt.
While the data leakers request is for Bitcoin payment, we believe they are primarily interested in acquiring Monero coin. Once payments are made the actors use a popular tool called ShapeShift to turn the Bitcoin into Monero (XMR). Shapeshift allows the actors to pay in from one cryptocoin and receive a payout in another without creating an account for the service. The added Monero features enable them to maintain greater anonymity during the transfer. It is anonymity that usually motivates cybercriminals to move to Monero. Monero coins are of interest due to their improved anonymity and privacy-related improvements, making it difficult to for law enforcement and security researchers to trace.
The actor who leaked this data is obviously motivated by money as evidenced by the requested payment for further data leaks. Fake datasets, especially those that contain credit card information, email addresses and passwords, have been known to be for sale to scam other cybercriminals. It’s a distinct possibility that this could be the case with the current data dump but it has yet to be determined. However, competition also can play a primary motivator. Many times competing bad actors will attempt to sabotage others in the space. Altruism can play a role as well. Some vigilante actors may believe that their motivations are for the greater good regardless of the laws they break and collateral damage. Whatever the motivations are, data leaks like these can be embarrassing, damaging and in some cases dangerous for the victims whose information it may contain.
Other points of interest:
- There are a surprisingly low number of unique victim numbers in the database with only 169.
- The latest URL record is as recent as May 12,2018
- The latest SMS record is as recent as May 8,2018
- 81 unique numbers had 47,784 records of GPS data stored
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