Fake Android antivirus app likely linked to Zeus banking Trojan, researchers say

Cybercriminals are distributing a mobile component of the Zeus banking Trojan as an Android security application, Kaspersky experts said

A recently discovered fake Android security application is most likely a mobile component of the Zeus banking malware, security researchers from antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab said on Monday.

Called Android Security Suite Premium, the rogue app is capable of stealing SMS messages and uploading them to a remote server. When launched, the app displays a shield image that has long been associated with Windows fake antivirus programs, also known as FakeAV or scareware.

"How could I ever forget such an identifiable logo," Nathan Collier, a threat research analyst at antivirus firm Webroot, said in a blog post about the new threat on Friday. "Now that the developers of the popular FakeAV malware have entered into the mobile world expect to to see a lot more variations of this."

However, this might not be a mobile scareware app, but a new variant of ZitMo -- Zeus in the Mobile, said Kaspersky Lab senior malware analyst Denis Maslennikov.

ZitMo apps are malicious mobile applications that are used by cybercriminals in conjunction with the Zeus computer Trojan in order to steal money from online banking accounts. They appeared back in 2010 as a response to banks implementing mobile-based security measures.

Their purpose is to steal mobile transaction authorization numbers (mTANs) sent by banks to their customers via SMS messages. Without mTANs, fraudsters wouldn't be able to authorize transactions initiated with stolen credentials.

The registration information for the domain names where Android Security Suite Premium uploads stolen SMS messages matches the registration information for 2011 Zeus command-and-control domains, Maslennikov said. This, coupled with the app's SMS-stealing functionality makes it likely that this is a new ZitMo version.

Even though this app displays an activation code when opened, it doesn't display fake security alerts and doesn't ask users for money like scareware applications do, Maslennikov said. "It's not a fake AV -- 100 percent."

Kaspersky researchers are still analyzing how the malicious app is being distributed. It's possible that, like with previous ZitMo versions, attackers are using social engineering to trick victims into downloading it, Maslennikov said.

The Zeus computer Trojan has the ability to inject pop-ups into online banking websites when they are opened on infected computers. This functionality has been used in the past to distribute ZitMo apps as security updates from the targeted banks.

In a similar way, the Android Security Suite Premium might be advertised as a free Android security product offered by the victim's bank.

As security researchers recommended in the past, users should only install Android apps from the official Google Play website and should always look at an app's reviews and download statistics to determine if it's trustworthy.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?