Security researchers observed a highly targeted Android mobile surveillanceware malware dubbed Monokle that compromises users privacy by stealing user data and exfiltrate the data to remote servers.
Lookout researchers able to link the malware associated with Russian defense contactor STC, the malware operates on both offensive and defensive side of mobile tooling.
The malware is used for targeting individuals and it heavily relies on Android accessibility services to exfiltrate the data. Lookout observed the malware uses shared interface along with legitimate and malicious Android applications produced by STC.
Monokle Presence in Android Applications
With the rooted the malware is capable of installing attacker-specified certificates to the trusted thereby, the malware can launch a MITM over TLS traffic. The malware observed in several trojanized versions of legitimate applications such as Skype, Google update, Signal, Es Explorer and other applications. The malware samples found in the wild.
The malware attempts to record screens during unlocking events to compromise the device PIN, pattern, or password. It uses accessibility services to capture data from third-party apps such as Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, and other apps.
Lookout able to confirm the existence of an iOS version of the malware, “the classes and commands appear to serve no purpose as part of the Android client and may have been generated and included in it unintentionally.”
Malware Surveillanceware Capabilities
- Remounts system partition to install attackers certificate to intercept TLS connection
- Get the salt that was used when storing a user’s password
- Reset a user’s Pincode
- Capable of hooking itself to appear invisible to Process Manager
- Retrieve calendar information
- Receive out-of-band messages via keywords
- Retrieve user dictionary
- Record environment audio
- Make outgoing calls.
- Record calls
- Keylogger, Grab Screenshots and retrieve call history.
- Take photos and videos.
- Collect information from WhatsApp, Instagram, VK, Skype and IMO.
- Retrieve contacts, Reboot a device and List installed applications.
- Get nearby tower info and Wi-Fi details.
- Execute arbitrary shell if root access available.
Links between monokle and STC
The STC involved in developing a number of software products that focus om Android defensive security that includes native antivirus engine, and a network monitor application and other products.
According to the report “Command and control infrastructure that communicates with the Defender application also communicates with Monokle samples. The signing certificates used for signing Android application packages overlap between Defender and Monokle as well”.Lookout observed a number of developers name associated with Monokle connected with STC as well.”
Mobile phones have become a part of everyday life, and their functionality continues to develop at a rapid pace. Our private and personal data stored on mobile devices and the cloud is now more vulnerable than ever to cybersecurity threats.