Sunday, July 21, 2024

SharkBot – New Generation Malware on Google Play Distributed as Android Antivirus App

While malware distributors may have a harder time getting their malicious apps through Google’s automatic scanning and flagging system, but, SharkBot shows that they can easily bypass the company’s security barriers and even human or manual verifications. 

Although the app was unpopular, its presence in Google Play Store shows that nobody but the distribution platform itself should have control over what gets published on the store.

While this new generation of SharkBot malware was distributed as an Android antivirus application on the Google Play Store.

This new generation of SharkBot has been discovered by the cybersecurity analysts at the NCC Group in Google Play Store.

Abilities of SharkBot

In October 2021, Cleafy security firm first discovered this malware, and it differed from previous banking trojans not only by transferring money in a previously unseen way but also by targeting Automatic Transfer Systems (ATS). 

Moreover, it was able to carry out this scheme initially by simulating touches and clicks on the user’s device – until eventually, the user moved into carrying out physical button-presses on the affected devices.

While the cybersecurity firm, NCC has claimed that the new version of SharkBot also offers the money transfer feature but, in this case, this feature is used in advanced attacks only.

Here below we have mentioned all the key features of SharkBot’s latest version:-

  • Injections (overlay attack): SharkBot can steal credentials by showing a WebView with a fake login website (phishing) as soon as it detects the official banking app has been opened.
  • Keylogging: Sharkbot can steal credentials by logging accessibility events (related to text fields changes and buttons clicked) and sending these logs to the command and control server (C2).
  • SMS intercept: Sharkbot has the ability to intercept/hide SMS messages.
  • Remote control/ATS: Sharkbot has the ability to obtain full remote control of an Android device through Accessibility Services. 

To abuse, all these features, SharkBot exploits the Accessibility permission on Android through which in the later period, it grants all the additional permissions as required.

Commands Received from the C2 server

Here below we have listed all the commands that are received from the C2 server along with their respective actions:-

  • smsSend: used to send a text message.
  • updateLib: used to request the malware downloads a new JAR file from the specified URL.
  • updateSQL: used to send the SQL query to be executed in the SQLite database.
  • stopAll: used to reset/stop the ATS feature.
  • updateConfig: used to send an updated config to the malware.
  • uninstallApp: used to uninstall the specified app.
  • changeSmsAdmin: used to change the SMS manager app.
  • getDoze: used to check if the permissions to ignore battery optimization are enabled or not.
  • sendInject: used to show an overlay to steal user’s credentials
  • getNotify: used to show the Notification Listener settings if they are not enabled for the malware.
  • APP_STOP_VIEW: used to close the specified app.
  • downloadFile: used to download one file from the specified URL.
  • updateTimeKnock: used to update the last request timestamp for the bot.
  • localATS: used to enable ATS attacks.

One of the remarkable differences between SharkBot and other Android banking trojans is its improved capabilities.

An interesting new update from SharkBot was its integration of an Android framework function known as “Direct Reply” that enables app developers to create replies for notifications straight from the C2.

By leveraging this relatively new framework feature, bank-fraud applications such as SharkBot have been able to intercept incoming notifications and then automatically reply to them with messages coming directly from their Command & Control servers.

By replying with a shortened URL, the operators of SharkBot uses this feature to drop the feature-rich payloads on the compromised system.

Here to make the detection more complex, the C2 relies on a DGA system and also blocks the command-issuing domains of SharkBot.


However, to remain protected, the security experts at NCC has strongly recommended users to follow some basic security rules:-

  • Do not blindly trust any apps on the Play Store.
  • Always try to keep installed minimum apps on your device.
  • Must use robust and trusted Antivirus tools.

You can follow us on LinkedinTwitterFacebook for daily Cybersecurity and hacking news updates.


Latest articles

Hackers Claiming Dettol Data Breach: 453,646 users Impacted

A significant data breach has been reported by a threat actor known as 'Hana,'...

CrowdStrike Update Triggers Widespread Windows BSOD Crashes

A recent update from cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has caused significant disruptions for Windows users,...

Operation Spincaster Disrupts Approval Phishing Technique that Drains Victim’s Wallets

Chainalysis has launched Operation Spincaster, an initiative to disrupt approval phishing scams that have...

Octo Tempest Know for Attacking VMWare ESXi Servers Added RansomHub & Qilin to Its Arsenal

Threat actors often attack VMware ESXi servers since they accommodate many virtual machines, which...

TAG-100 Actors Using Open-Source Tools To Attack Gov & Private Orgs

Hackers exploit open-source tools to execute attacks because they are readily available, well-documented, and...

macOS Users Beware Of Weaponized Meeting App From North Korean Hackers

Meeting apps are often targeted and turned into weapons by hackers as they are...

Hackers Exploiting Legitimate RMM Tools With BugSleep Malware

Since October 2023, MuddyWater, which is an Iranian threat group linked to MOIS, has...
Guru baran
Guru baran
Gurubaran is a co-founder of Cyber Security News and GBHackers On Security. He has 10+ years of experience as a Security Consultant, Editor, and Analyst in cybersecurity, technology, and communications.

Free Webinar

Low Rate DDoS Attack

9 of 10 sites on the AppTrana network have faced a DDoS attack in the last 30 days.
Some DDoS attacks could readily be blocked by rate-limiting, IP reputation checks and other basic mitigation methods.
More than 50% of the DDoS attacks are employing botnets to send slow DDoS attacks where millions of IPs are being employed to send one or two requests per minute..
Key takeaways include:

  • The mechanics of a low-DDoS attack
  • Fundamentals of behavioural AI and rate-limiting
  • Surgical mitigation actions to minimize false positives
  • Role of managed services in DDoS monitoring

Related Articles