This sneaky Android malware has an all-new way to avoid being detected

 Instagram security steps.
Instagram security steps.

Cybersecurity researchers have found a new version of a well-known Android banking trojan malware which sports quite a creative method of hiding in plain sight.

PixPirate targets mostly Brazilian consumers with accounts on the Pix instant payment platform, which allegedly counts more than 140 million customers, and services transactions north of $250 billion.

The campaign’s goal was to divert the cash to attacker-owned accounts. Usually, banking trojans on Android would try to hide by changing their app icons and names. Often, the trojans would assume the “settings” icon, or something similar, tricking the victims into looking elsewhere, or simply into being too afraid to remove the app from their device. PixPirate, on the other hand, gets rid of all of that by not having an icon in the first place.

Running the malware

The big caveat here is that without the icon, the victims cannot launch the trojan, so that crucial part of the equation is left to the attackers.

The campaign consists of two apps - the dropper, and the “droppee”. The dropper is being distributed on third-party stores, shady websites, and via social media channels, and is designed to deliver the final payload - droppee - and to run it (after asking for Accessibility and other permissions).

Droppee, which is PixPirate’s filename, exports a service to which other apps can connect to. The dropper connects to that service, allowing it to run the trojan. Even after removing the dropper, the malware can still run on its own, on certain triggers (for example, on boot, on network change, or on other system events).

The entire process, from harvesting user credentials, to initiating money transfer, is automated, and done in the background without the victim’s knowledge or consent. The only thing standing in the way, the researchers claim, are Accessibility Service permissions.

It is also worth mentioning that this method only works on older versions of Android, up to Pie (9).

Via BleepingComputer

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