August 1, 2018 By David Bisson 2 min read

Three fake Android banking apps phished for users’ credit card details and then leaked them online by transferring them to an exposed server.

On July 26, 2018, Slovakian security firm ESET reported that it notified Google about the three fake banking apps that were uploaded to the Google Play Store in June and July 2018. Each of the impostor programs promised to increase users’ credit card limits at one of three Indian banks and presented users with a form to supposedly collect their credit card information.

Upon completing the forms, the apps directed users to a final screen indicating that a “customer service executive” would be in touch soon. Instead, the applications sent users’ information in plaintext to a server where anyone with a link — not just the attackers — could access the saved data.

Fake Android Banking Apps Exploit Common Mobile Security Weaknesses

This campaign highlights attackers’ ongoing interest in mobile banking, which has given rise to a host of new security threats. First, fraudsters are now targeting users with fake mobile banking apps — and users often can’t distinguish between real and potentially malicious programs. According to Avast, 36 percent of users have mistaken fraudulent banking applications as legitimate.

At the same time, banks’ legitimate mobile applications often suffer from security weaknesses themselves. For instance, researchers at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. discovered in December 2017 that even some “high-security” banking, stock trading, cryptocurrency and virtual private network (VPN) applications were susceptible to man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks due to failure to verify the hostname.

How Can Organizations Stave Off Mobile Banking Threats?

Security professionals should adopt a multipronged approach to defend their organizations against the threat of fake mobile banking apps. IBM experts recommend investing in mobile threat prevention (MTP) solutions, as well as a mobile device management (MDM) platform that allows access to only certain approved applications.

Security leaders can also protect Android devices from fraudulent apps by implementing unified endpoint management (UEM) and over-the-air (OTA) support.

Sources: WeLiveSecurity, Avast, University of Birmingham

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