A new Android banking trojan is also ransomware

The Xbot is not widespread yet but is targeting devices in Australia and Russia

A new kind of Android malware steals online banking credentials and can hold a device's files hostage in exchange for a ransom, delivering a particularly nasty one-two punch.

The malware, called Xbot, is not widespread yet and appears to be just targeting devices in Australia and Russia, wrote researchers with Palo Alto Networks in a blog post on Thursday.

But they believe whomever is behind Xbot may try to expand its target base.

"As the author appears to be putting considerable time and effort into making this Trojan more complex and harder to detect, it’s likely that its ability to infect users and remain hidden will only grow," Palo Alto wrote.

Xbot uses a technique called activity hijacking to carry out attacks aimed at stealing online banking and personal details.

It essentially allows the malware to launch a different action when someone tries to launch an application. User are unaware that they're actually using the wrong program or function.

Activity hijacking take advantage of features in Android versions prior to 5.0. Google has since developed defenses against it, so only older devices or those that have not been updated would be affected.

In one type of attack, Xbot monitors the app a user has launched. If it is a particular online banking app, Xbot intervenes and displays an interface that obscures the real app.

The bogus interface is actually downloaded from a command-and-control server and displayed using WebView, Palo Alto wrote. The legitimate applications are not actually tampered with.

"So far we’ve found seven different faked interfaces," Palo Alto wrote. "We identified six of them – they’re imitating apps for some of the most popular banks in Australia. The interfaces are very similar to these banks’ official apps’ login interfaces. If a victim fills out the form, the bank account number, password, and security tokens will be sent," to the command-and-control server.

Xbot can also bring up an interface through WebView saying the device has been infected with CryptoLocker, a well-known ransomware program. Ransomware encrypts files and then asks for payment for the decryption key. In this case, the attackers ask for US$100 to be paid through a spoofed PayPal site.

Xbot will actually encrypt files on the device's external storage. However, the encryption algorithm used is weak, and it would be possible to recover the files, Palo Alto wrote.

Xbot can also scrape the phone for personal data, such as contacts, SMSes and phone numbers and send the data to the attackers.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Google 5.0Palo AltoXbotAndroidtrojanmalware

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

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

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

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

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?