A new variant of XLoader is masquerading as Android security apps and an iOS configuration profile to target mobile users.

Trend Micro detected the variant while analyzing a smishing campaign that tricked mobile users into visiting one of several fake websites, including a clone of a Japanese mobile phone operator. Whenever an Android user visited a malicious site and/or pressed any of the available buttons, the campaign triggered the download of an Android Package (APK) for fake security software (assuming the user has enabled the installation of third-party apps in their Unknown Sources settings). This APK contained the variant of XLoader, a family of malware that is capable of behaving as spyware and a banking Trojan.

In the event an iOS user visited one of the malicious websites, the campaign redirected to another website that prompted them to download a malicious iOS configuration profile. The campaign claimed this profile would help the user’s device resolve a network issue that’s preventing the site from loading. If the user downloaded the profile, the site loads and reveals an Apple phishing page.

The Growth of XLoader

Trend Micro first observed efforts to distribute XLoader disguised as legitimate Facebook and Chrome apps in April 2018. Just months later, the security firm observed that the malware had infected 384,748 victims, with the bulk of affected users located in South Korea and Japan.

Also in April 2018, researchers at ESET discovered fake applications available for download on the Google Play store that simply inundated users with unwanted ads. Even as far back as 2012, Kaspersky Lab detected a Trojan using the security app disguise to steal incoming SMS messages from infected devices.

How to Defend Against Android Malware

Security professionals can help defend their organizations against Android malware like XLoader by using a mobile threat prevention (MTP) platform to monitor devices for suspicious activity and automatically detect and remove malicious apps from infected devices. Organizations should also organize test phishing engagements to strengthen employees’ defenses against social engineering attacks.

More from

The White House on Quantum Encryption and IoT Labels

A recent White House Fact Sheet outlined the current and future U.S. cybersecurity priorities. While most of the topics covered were in line with expectations, others drew more attention. The emphasis on critical infrastructure protection is clearly a top national priority. However, the plan is to create a labeling system for IoT devices, identifying the ones with the highest cybersecurity standards. Few expected that news. The topic of quantum-resistant encryption reveals that such concerns may become a reality sooner than…

Contain Breaches and Gain Visibility With Microsegmentation

Organizations must grapple with challenges from various market forces. Digital transformation, cloud adoption, hybrid work environments and geopolitical and economic challenges all have a part to play. These forces have especially manifested in more significant security threats to expanding IT attack surfaces. Breach containment is essential, and zero trust security principles can be applied to curtail attacks across IT environments, minimizing business disruption proactively. Microsegmentation has emerged as a viable solution through its continuous visualization of workload and device communications…

CEO, CIO or CFO: Who Should Your CISO Report To?

As we move deeper into a digitally dependent future, the growing concern of data breaches and other cyber threats has led to the rise of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). This position is essential in almost every company that relies on digital information. They are responsible for developing and implementing strategies to harden the organization's defenses against cyberattacks. However, while many organizations don't question the value of a CISO, there should be more debate over who this important role…

Malware-as-a-Service Flaunts Its Tally of Users and Victims

As time passes, the security landscape keeps getting stranger and scarier. How long did the “not if, but when” mentality towards cyberattacks last — a few years, maybe? Now, security pros think in terms of how often will their organization be attacked and at what cost. Or they consider how the difference between legitimate Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) brands and Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS) gangs keeps getting blurrier. MaaS operators provide web-based services, slick UX, tiered subscriptions, newsletters and Telegram channels that keep users…