The McAfee mobile research team has found a new type of Android malware for the MoqHao phishing campaign (a.k.a. XLoader and Roaming Mantis) targeting Korean and Japanese users. A series of attack campaigns are still active, mainly targeting Japanese users. The new spyware has very different payloads from the existing MoqHao samples. However, we found evidence of a connection between the distribution method used for the existing campaign and this new spyware. All the spyware we found this time pretends to be security applications targeting users in Japan and Korea. We discovered a phishing page related to DNS Hijacking attack, designed to trick the user into installing the new spyware, distributed on the Google Play store.
Fake Japanese Security Apps Distributed on Google Play
We found two fake Japanese security applications. The package names are com.jshop.test and com.jptest.tools2019. These packages were distributed on the Google Play store. The number of downloads of these applications was very low. Fortunately, the spyware apps had been immediately removed from the Google Play store, so we acquired the malicious bullets thanks to the Google Android Security team.
Figure 1. Fake security applications distributed on Google Play
This Japanese spyware has four command and control functions. Below is the server command list used with this spyware. The spyware attempts to collect device information like IMEI and phone number and steal SMS/MMS messages on the device. These malicious commands are sent from a push service of Tencent Push Notification Service.
Figure 2. Command registration into mCommandReceiver
Table 1. The command lists
*1 Not implemented correctly due to the difference from the functionality guessed from the command name
We believe that the cybercriminal included minimal spyware features to bypass Google’s security checks to distribute the spyware on the Google Play store, perhaps with the intention of adding additional functionality in future updates, once approved.
Fake Korean Police Apps
Following further investigation, we found other very similar samples to the above fake Japanese security applications, this time targeting Korean users. A fake Korean police application disguised itself as an anti-spyware application. It was distributed with a filename of cyber.apk on a host server in Taiwan (that host has previously been associated with malicious phishing domains impersonating famous Japanese companies). It used the official icon of the Korean police application and a package name containing ‘kpo’, along with references to com.kpo.scan and com.kpo.help, all of which relate to the Korean police.
Figure 3. This Korean police application icon was misappropriated
The Trojanized package was obfuscated by the Tencent packer to hide its malicious spyware payload. Unlike the existing samples used in the MoqHao campaign, where the C&C server address was simply embedded in the spyware application; MoqHao samples hide and access the control server address via Twitter accounts.
The malware has very similar spyware functionality to the fake Japanese security application. However, this one features many additional commands compared to the Japanese one. Interestingly, the Tencent Push Service is used to issue commands to the infected user.
Figure 4. Tencent Push Service
The code and table below show characteristics of the server command and content list.
Figure 5. Command registration into mCommandReceiver
Table 2. The command lists
*1 Seems to be under construction due to the difference from the functionality guessed from the command name
There are several interesting functions implemented in this spyware. To execute an automated phone call function on a default calling application, KAutoService class has an implementation to check content in the active window and automatically click the start call button.
Figure 6. KAutoSevice class clicks start button automatically in the active calling application
Another interesting function attempts to disable anti-spam call applications (e.g. whowho – Caller ID & Block), which warns users if it is suspicious in the case of incoming calls from an unknown number. The disable function of these call security applications in the spyware allows cyber criminals to make a call without arousing suspicion as no alert is issued from the anti-spam call apps, thus increasing the success of social engineering.
Figure 7. Disable anti-spam-call applications
Figure 8. Disable anti-spam-call applications
Table 3. List of disabled anti-spam call applications
Connection with Active MoqHao Campaigns
The malware characteristics and structures are very different from the existing MoqHao samples. We give special thanks to @ZeroCERT and @ninoseki, without who we could not have identified the connection to the active MoqHao attack and DNS hijacking campaigns. The server script on the phishing website hosting the fake Chrome application leads victims to a fake Japanese security application on the Google Play store (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.jptest.tools2019) under specific browser conditions.
Figure 9. The server script redirects users to a fake security application on Google Play (Source: @ninoseki)
There is a strong correlation between both the fake Japanese and Korean applications we found this time. This malware has common spy commands and shares the same crash report key on a cloud service. Therefore, we concluded that both pieces of spyware are connected to the ongoing MoqHao campaigns.
We believe that the spyware aims to masquerade as a security application and perform spy activities, such as tracking device location and eavesdropping on call conversations. It is distributed via an official application store that many users trust. The attack campaign is still ongoing, and it now features a new Android spyware that has been created by the cybercriminals. McAfee is working with Japanese law enforcement agencies to help with the takedown of the attack campaign. To protect your privacy and keep your data from cyber-attacks, please do not install apps from outside of official application stores. Keep firmware up to date on your device and make sure to protect it from malicious apps by installing security software on it.
McAfee Mobile Security detects this threat as Android/SpyAgent and alerts mobile users if it is present, while protecting them from any data loss. For more information about McAfee Mobile Security, visit https://www.mcafeemobilesecurity.com
Appendix – IOCs
Table 4. Fake Japanese security application IOCs
Table 5. Fake Korean police application IOCs