Android malware hammers phones with unwanted ads

The Kemoge malware contains eight root exploits, FireEye said

Android users in more than 20 countries have been infected with a particularly aggressive malware program that bombards devices with unwanted advertisements.

Researchers from FireEye found that the malicious component, nicknamed Kemoge, has been seeded inside what appear to be legitimate apps offered on third-party application stores.

"This is another malicious adware family, possibly written by Chinese developers or controlled by Chinese hackers, spreading on a global scale that represents a significant threat," wrote Yulong Zhang, a staff research scientist with FireEye.

Whomever created Kemoge repackaged legitimate apps with the malware and then promoted them on websites and through in-app ads to persuade people to download them.

Zhang listed a dozed affected apps: Sex Cademy, Assistive Touch, Calculator, Kiss Browser, Smart Touch, Shareit, Privacy Lock, Easy Locker, 2048kg, Talking Tom 3, WiFi Enhancer and Light Browser.

Third-party apps stores are considered risky places to download Android apps, as hackers frequently upload malicious apps to them. Google performs a security check on apps in its Play store, although harmful ones occasionally sneak in.

Kemoge not only displays unwanted ads, but it's also loaded with eight root exploits that target a wide range of Android devices, Zhang wrote. A successful attack using those exploits means an attacker would have complete control over the device.

fireeye2 FireEye

Users are persuaded to download infected apps through third-party marketplaces, and their devices are then probed for software flaws, FireEye said.

Kemoge will collect a device's IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) and IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) numbers, information on storage and apps, and send the information to a remote server.

That command-and-control server was still running, Zhang wrote. An analysis of traffic exchanged between an infected device and the server showed Kemoge also tries to uninstall antivirus apps.

Curiously, FireEye came across an app called Shareit in Google's Play store that was signed by the same digital certificate as the malicious one found on the third-party source.

The Google Play version of ShareIt did not have the eight root exploits or contact the command-and-control server, but it did have some of the same Kemoge code libraries. It now appears to be gone from Google Play.

"We have notified Google about this threat," Zhang wrote.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

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.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?