Security researchers observed an adaptable Android Trojan known as GPlayed masquerading as Google Apps to spy on and steal information from unsuspecting victims.
Cisco Talos discovered a sample of GPlayed that used an icon similar to Google Apps labeled “Google Play Marketplace” to trick users into installing the Trojan. Once booted, the malware attempted to register the infected device with its command-and-control (C&C) server. It then set up an SMS handler as a means to forward all SMS messages on the device to the C&C server. GPlayed completed initialization by requesting administrator privileges.
The GPlayed sample analyzed by Cisco Talos came with a modular architecture that enabled the attackers to customize their campaign. For example, the Trojan locked device screens and demanded payment from the victim via his or her credit card information. The sample also had the ability to exfiltrate contacts, a list of installed applications and the means to receive new .NET source code.
The Dangers of Downloading Apps Outside of Google Play
Attackers designed GPlayed to trick users into downloading what they thought was Google Apps, a technique that highlights the dangers of downloading software from locations other than official mobile app marketplaces.
Earlier this year, on the same day Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney announced that Android users would need to download Fortnite from the web instead of the Google Play Store, WIRED and Lookout discovered seven sites advertising fake Fortnite downloads that hosted malware. In 2016, Check Point uncovered more than 80 fake apps available on third-party Android marketplaces that distributed Gooligan malware.
How to Defend Against an Android Trojan Infection
Security professionals can protect their organizations from GPlayed and similar Trojans by implementing security awareness training to promote best practices such as downloading apps from official marketplaces and avoiding suspicious links. Experts also recommend using a unified endpoint management (UEM) solution that offers mobile threat management to monitor devices for suspicious activity.