Researchers uncovered an Android spyware family called BondPath that is capable of retrieving chats from several mobile messaging apps while spying on other types of information.
BondPath has been around since May 2016, but in July 2018, researchers at Fortinet observed that some samples were still in the wild. Those specimens masqueraded as “Google Play Store Services,” an application signed by an unknown developer known only as “hola.” The name of this malicious application is intentionally similar to Google Play Services, the title of the process Google uses to update Android apps from the Play Store.
Upon successful execution, BondPath assumes the ability to steal an infected device’s browser history, call logs, emails and SMS messages. But a few less frequently used capabilities made BondPath stand out to the researchers, such as its ability to monitor an infected smartphone’s battery status. It could also steal chats from WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, Line and other mobile messaging apps.
The Rise and Fall of Spyware
According to Verizon’s “2018 Data Breach Investigations Report,” spyware and keylogger malware were involved in 121 security incidents and 74 data breaches in 2017. This threat category increased its activity during the second half of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, yielding a 56 percent increase in detections during the first quarter of 2018, according to Malwarebytes. Spurred in part by a series of large attack campaigns pushing Emotet, Malwarebytes named spyware as the top detected business threat for the quarter.
Near the end of the first quarter, spyware activity declined significantly. It continued falling throughout the second quarter, ultimately decreasing by 40 percent, according to Malwarebytes. In that span of time, TrickBot was the most prevalent form of spyware after it added the ability to hijack cryptocurrency earlier in the year.
How to Protect Against Mobile Threats
To defend their organizations against BondPath and similar mobile threats that originate in official app stores, security teams should keep applications and operating systems running at the current patch level, verify the legitimacy of unsolicited email attachments through a separate channel, and monitor their IT environment for the indicators of compromise (IoCs) listed in the IBM X-Force Exchange threat advisory.