Saturday, March 2, 2024

Syrian State-sponsored Hacking Group uses COVID-19 Themes to Attacks Android users

Lookout researchers have uncovered a mobile surveillance campaign that has used more than 71 malicious Android apps to spy on Syrian users since the start of January 2018 by the Syrian nation-state hacking group called as Syrian Electronic Army (SEA).

There are 64 samples belongs to commercial surveillanceware “SpyNote” families and others belongs to SandroRat, AndoServer, and SLRat families disguise itself to provide relevant information about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Surveillanceware campaigns

The trend of commercial surveillanceware families has been observed recently targets Libya users via SpyMax .SpyMax and SpyNote were developed by the same creators.

These are Remote Access Trojans (RATs) for Android devices that may pack a lot of features that enable their authors with the ability to carry out a broad range of unsafe operations on the infected device.

Below apps were trojanized apps used in the campaign and not available on the official Google Play Store, suggesting they were likely distributed through actor-operated watering holes or third-party app stores.

71 malicious Android apps
Application icon from this surveillance campaign

Applications from this surveillance campaign impersonate a variety of applications, with titles such as “Covid19”, “Telegram Covid_19”, “Android Telegram”, and “Threema Arabic” (an end-to-end encrypted messaging application), as well as a phone signal booster and OfficeSuite application.  Package names also allude to Syrian targeting, with names such as “com.syria.tel”, “syria.tel.ctu”, and “com.syriatel.ctu”.

Syrian state-sponsored hacking group- (SEA)hosts C2 server Infrastructure

Researchers found 71 malicious Android applications connected to the same command-and-control (C2) server belongs to Tarassul Internet Service Provider, an ISP owned by the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE) .STE has a history of hosting infrastructure for the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), a Syrian state-sponsored hacking group.

The Syrian Electronic Army has been active recently, with one of their Twitter accounts claiming responsibility this month for DDoS attacks against Belgian media, as well as defacing PayPal and eBay websites as recently as April 7, 2020.

71 malicious Android apps
Syrian Electronic Army’s multiple Twitter accounts most recent claims by @Official_SEA7,

Fake digital thermometer Application

One of the apps, “com.finger.body.temperature.ap” is a trojanized version of fake digital thermometer that trick users to install the malware in their device.

Trojanized version of fake digital thermometer

AndoServer samples receive commands, and are capable of:

  • Taking a screenshot
  • Getting battery levels and if the device is plugged in
  • Reporting location (latitude and longitude)
  • Getting a list of installed applications
  • Launching an application specified by the malicious actor
  • Checking the number of cameras on a device
  • Creating a specific pop-up message (toast)
  • Recording audio
  • Creating a file on external storage
  • Exfiltrating call logs
  • Listing files contained in a specified directory
  • Calling a phone number
  • Exfiltrating SMS messages
  • Sending SMS to a phone number
  • Exfiltrating the contact list
  • Playing a ringtone and then sleeping
  • Choosing a specific camera to access

Syrian authorities are known to heavily censor their country’s internet, with Syria ranking 174th on Reporters Without Borders 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

Given Syria’s history of censorship and past mobile and desktop surveillance campaigns, it should come as no surprise that another campaign is active.

Website

Latest articles

AI Worm Developed by Researchers Spreads Automatically Between AI Agents

Researchers have developed what they claim to be one of the first generative AI...

20 Million+ Cutout.Pro User Records Leaked On Hacking Forums

CutOut.Pro, an AI-powered photo and video editing platform, has reportedly suffered a data breach,...

CWE Version 4.14 Released: What’s New!

The Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) project, a cornerstone in the cybersecurity landscape, has unveiled...

RisePro Stealer Attacks Windows Users Steals Sensitive Data

A new wave of cyber threats has emerged as the RisePro information stealer targets...

Golden Corral Restaurant Chain Hacked: 180,000+ Users’ Data Stolen

The Golden Corral Corporation, a popular American restaurant chain, has suffered a significant data...

CISA Warns Of Hackers Exploiting Multiple Flaws In Ivanti VPN

Threat actors target and abuse VPN flaws because VPNs are often used to secure...

BEAST AI Jailbreak Language Models Within 1 Minute With High Accuracy

Malicious hackers sometimes jailbreak language models (LMs) to exploit bugs in the systems so...

Live Account Takeover Attack Simulation

Live Account Take Over Attack

Live Webinar on How do hackers bypass 2FA ,Detecting ATO attacks, A demo of credential stuffing, brute force and session jacking-based ATO attacks, Identifying attacks with behaviour-based analysis and Building custom protection for applications and APIs.

Related Articles