Security researchers uncovered a new Android malware strain called “DEFENSOR ID” that channels its malicious activity through a device’s Accessibility Services.

In its analysis, ESET observed DEFENSOR ID had succeeded in infiltrating the Google Play store, sneaking past mobile security checks by reducing its malicious functionality to a single action: requesting access to a device’s Accessibility Services. This privilege enabled the malware to perform 17 commands received from the attacker, including launching an app and performing a click action remotely instructed by its handlers.

By controlling a device’s Accessibility Services, DEFENSOR ID gave attackers the ability to steal access to and subsequently empty a victim’s cryptocurrency wallet or banking account. This privilege also gave malicious actors the ability to read SMS text messages for the purpose of intercepting a victim’s two-step verification (2SV) code in the event that they had enabled this security feature on their account.

Android Malware Abusing Accessibility Services

DEFENSOR ID isn’t the first Android malware to abuse Accessibility Services in 2020. In March, for instance, McAfee witnessed the Android/LeifAccess.A Trojan exploiting this Android feature to infect a device and post fake reviews on Google Play.

In April 2020, Check Point Research observed the Black Rose Lucy malware family using a fake streaming video optimization (SVO) prompt to trick a victim into granting access to their device’s Accessibility Services. Just a couple of days later, Cybereason detailed the efforts of EventBot to steal user data from financial apps by leveraging Accessibility Services.

Defend Against DEFENSOR ID

Security professionals can help defend their organizations against Android malware such as DEFENSOR ID by creating security policies around the use of mobile devices. Those policies should limit the marketplaces and developers from which employees can download apps onto their corporate devices. Teams should also consider leveraging tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to help detect the latest threat behaviors circulating in the wild.

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