Security researchers discovered two malicious Android apps that leveraged a clever two-factor authentication (2FA) bypass to steal Turkish users’ cryptocurrency credentials.

ESET discovered two malicious apps capable of using this 2FA bypass on the Google Play store. A developer named BTCTurk Pro Beta uploaded the first app — similarly dubbed BTCTurk Pro Beta — on June 7. The second app, sBtcTurk Pro Beta, arrived on Google Play on June 11 from a developer named BtSoft. Both of these apps registered around 50 downloads before the Slovakian security firm reported them to Google’s security team.

Upon installation, the apps request a permission known as Notification Access. This privilege enables the app to read notifications from other apps, dismiss them and click on buttons within those notifications. Notifications include SMS messages containing 2FA codes.

When granted, the malicious apps direct users to a fake login page for Turkish cryptocurrency exchange BtcTurk. The apps then display an error message while they secretly send those login credentials to a remote server. The individuals behind this campaign use those details as well as the Notification Access permission to authenticate themselves, conceal any 2FA prompts and empty their victims’ cryptocurrency accounts.

The Limitations of SMS-Based 2FA

These malicious apps illustrate the long-running limitations of SMS-based 2FA. In December 2018, for example, ESET came across an Android Trojan designed to steal funds out of mobile users’ PayPal accounts, including those protected by 2FA. Earlier that year, attackers used SMS intercept techniques to bypass 2FA in a security incident that affected some computer systems of Reddit.

Prepare for the Next Mobile 2FA Bypass Threat

To help defend their organizations against mobile malware that comes with a 2FA bypass, security leaders should invest in a unified endpoint management (UEM) solution that uses compliance rules and detection logic to scan for mobile malware. Companies should also protect corporate-owned mobile devices by keeping software up to date, implementing password best practices and writing security policies that limit app installations to official marketplaces.

More from

The Evolution of Antivirus Software to Face Modern Threats

Over the years, endpoint security has evolved from primitive antivirus software to more sophisticated next-generation platforms employing advanced technology and better endpoint detection and response.  Because of the increased threat that modern cyberattacks pose, experts are exploring more elegant ways of keeping data safe from threats.Signature-Based Antivirus SoftwareSignature-based detection is the use of footprints to identify malware. All programs, applications, software and files have a digital footprint. Buried within their code, these digital footprints or signatures are unique to the respective…

How Do Threat Hunters Keep Organizations Safe?

Neil Wyler started his job amid an ongoing cyberattack. As a threat hunter, he helped his client discover that millions of records had been stolen over four months. Even though his client used sophisticated tools, its threat-hunting technology did not detect the attack because the transactions looked normal. But with Wyler’s expertise, he was able to realize that data was leaving the environment as well as entering the system. His efforts saved the company from suffering even more damage and…

The White House on Quantum Encryption and IoT Labels

A recent White House Fact Sheet outlined the current and future U.S. cybersecurity priorities. While most of the topics covered were in line with expectations, others drew more attention. The emphasis on critical infrastructure protection is clearly a top national priority. However, the plan is to create a labeling system for IoT devices, identifying the ones with the highest cybersecurity standards. Few expected that news. The topic of quantum-resistant encryption reveals that such concerns may become a reality sooner than…

Contain Breaches and Gain Visibility With Microsegmentation

Organizations must grapple with challenges from various market forces. Digital transformation, cloud adoption, hybrid work environments and geopolitical and economic challenges all have a part to play. These forces have especially manifested in more significant security threats to expanding IT attack surfaces. Breach containment is essential, and zero trust security principles can be applied to curtail attacks across IT environments, minimizing business disruption proactively. Microsegmentation has emerged as a viable solution through its continuous visualization of workload and device communications…