A pair of mobile malware threats, XLoader and FakeSpy, that posed as apps from a Japanese home delivery company may be operated by or affiliated with the same group of cybercriminals, according to recent reports.

Nearly 385,000 people around the world have been affected by XLoader and FakeSpy, which are designed to steal personal information such as financial data and install other apps, according to Trend Micro. The majority of victims are based in Japan and South Korea, and data compiled up to October shows that the number of infections from the two mobile malware threats have increased dramatically since August.

The researchers attributed both XLoader and FakeSpy to a cybercriminal collective known as the Yanbian Gang.

Signs of a Possible Mobile Malware Connection

One sign that FakeSpy and XLoader might originate from the same source is a set of about 126 domains that they share as part of their deployment procedures. A closer look at the two threats revealed marked resemblances in their code, and they also attempt to hide the origins of their command-and-control (C&C) servers in similar ways.

Both threats imitated legitimate apps of a Japanese home delivery firm to dupe users into installing the mobile malware on their devices, and the domains in question were registered with phone numbers from the same Chinese province where researchers believe the Yanbian Gang is based.

That said, the report acknowledged that the two mobile malware threats may simply have been developed and deployed in similar ways, and nothing has been definitively proven yet.

How to Stay Ahead of the Threat

No matter who is behind FakeSpy and XLoader, there’s no question they follow in the footsteps of similar mobile malware campaigns that use phishing techniques to lure their victims.

In response to such threats, IBM X-Force and IBM Research in Tokyo developed an advanced approach called ahead-of-threat detection, which brings together disparate data sources to identify potentially dangerous phishing domains before cybercriminals can use them in their social engineering schemes. With ahead-of-threat detection, chief information security officers (CISOs) and their teams can build more effective blacklists and keep the likes of XLoader and FakeSpy at bay.

Source: Trend Micro

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