NCC CSIRT Discovers Banking App-Targeting Malware

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The Nigerian Communications Commission’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) has found new dangerous software that steals Android users’ banking app login information.

According to a security bulletin from the NCC CSIRT, the malicious software known as “Xenomorph,” which has been discovered to target 56 European financial institutions, has a significant impact and a high vulnerability rate. The primary goal of this malware is to steal passwords and then use SMS and notification interception to log in and perhaps employ 2-factor authentication tokens.

The Xenomorph is spread by an application that was smuggled into the Google Play store and masqueraded as a legitimate application called “Fast Cleaner,” which apparently purports to clean junk, boost device speed, and optimize battery life. In truth, this program is simply a mechanism for the Xenomorph Trojan to spread quickly and effortlessly.

To avoid detection or denial of PlayStore access, “Fast Cleaner” was distributed before the malware was placed on the remote server, making it difficult for Google to verify that such an app is being used for criminal purposes.

Once up and running on a victim’s device, Xenomorph can harvest device information and Short Messaging Service (SMS), intercept notifications and new SMS messages, perform overlay attacks, and prevent users from uninstalling it. The threat also asks for Accessibility Services privileges, which allow it to grant itself further permissions.

The CSIRT said the malware also steals victims’ banking credentials by overlaying fake login pages on top of legitimate ones. Considering that it can also intercept messages and notifications, it allows its operators to bypass SMS-based two-factor authentication and log into the victims’ accounts without alerting them.

“Xenomorph has been found to target 56 internet banking apps, 28 from Spain, 12 from Italy, 9 from Belgium, and 7 from Portugal, as well as cryptocurrency wallets and general-purpose applications like email services. The Fast Cleaner app has now been removed from the Play Store, but not before it garnered 50,000+ downloads, “the CSIRT security advisory asserted.

The Nigerian Communications Commission hereby wishes to advise telecom consumers to be on alert in order not to fall victim to this manipulation. Accordingly, the NCC urges telecom consumers and other Internet users, particularly those using Android-powered devices, to use trusted antivirus solutions and update them regularly with their latest definitions. The Commission also urges consumers and other stakeholders to always update banking applications to their most recent versions.

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Gbenga Elebiyo

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