New bank-fraud malware called Vultur infects thousands of devices

Just lately detected Android malware, some unfold via the Google Play Retailer, makes use of a novel strategy to supercharge the harvesting of login credentials from greater than 100 banking and cryptocurrency functions.

The malware, which researchers from Amsterdam-based safety agency ThreatFabric are calling Vultur, is among the many first Android threats to document a tool display screen each time one of many focused apps is opened. Vultur makes use of an actual implementation of the VNC screen-sharing utility to reflect the display screen of the contaminated machine to an attacker-controlled server, researchers with ThreatFabric mentioned.



The subsequent stage

The everyday modus operandi for Android-based bank-fraud malware is to superimpose a window on high of the login display screen offered by a focused app. The “overlay,” as such home windows are normally known as, seems an identical to the consumer interface of the banking app, giving victims the impression they’re coming into their credentials right into a trusted piece of software program. Attackers then harvest the credentials, enter them into the app operating on a special machine, and withdraw cash.

“Banking threats on the cellular platform are now not solely based mostly on well-known overlay assaults, however are evolving into RAT-like malware, inheriting helpful tips like detecting foreground functions to start out display screen recording,” ThreatFabric researchers wrote of the brand new Vultur method in a submit.

They continued:

This brings the menace to a different stage, as such options open the door for on-device fraud, circumventing detection based mostly on phishing MO’s that require fraud to be carried out from a brand new machine: With Vultur fraud can occur on the contaminated machine of the sufferer. These assaults are scalable and automatic for the reason that actions to carry out fraud could be scripted on the malware backend and despatched within the type of sequenced instructions.

Vultur, like many Android banking trojans, depends closely on accessibility providers constructed into the cellular OS. When first put in, Vultur abuses these providers to acquire the permissions required to work. To do that, the malware makes use of an overlay taken from different malware households. From then on, Vultur screens all requests that set off the accessibility providers.


Stealth and extra

The malware makes use of the providers to detect requests that come from a focused app. The malware additionally makes use of the providers to forestall deletion of the app through conventional measures. Particularly, each time the consumer tries to entry the app particulars display screen within the Android settings, Vultur mechanically clicks the again button. That blocks the consumer from accessing the uninstall button. Vultur additionally hides its icon.

One other approach the malware stays stealthy: trojanized apps that set up it are full-featured packages that really present actual providers, reminiscent of health monitoring or two-factor authentication. Regardless of the cloaking makes an attempt, nonetheless, the malware offers no less than one telltale signal that it’s operating—no matter trojanized app put in Vultur will seem within the Android notification panel as projecting the display screen.


As soon as put in, Vultur begins the display screen recording, utilizing VNC implementation from a well known Android app (Ars is leaving out the title, however it’s included within the ThreatFabric report). To supply distant entry to the VNC server operating on the contaminated machine, the malware makes use of ngrok, an app that makes use of an encrypted tunnel to show native techniques hidden behind firewalls to the general public Web.

The malware is put in by a trojanized app often called a dropper. Thus far, ThreatFabric researchers have discovered two trojanized apps in Google Play that set up Vultur. That they had mixed installations of about 5,000, main the researchers to estimate that the variety of Vultur infections is numbered within the 1000’s. In contrast to most Android malware, which depends on third-party droppers, Vultur makes use of a customized dropper that has come to be known as Brunhilda.

“This dropper and Vultur are each developed by the identical menace actor group,” ThreatFabric researchers wrote. “The selection of creating its personal non-public trojan, as an alternative of renting third-party malware, shows a robust motivation from this group, paired with the general excessive stage of construction and group current within the bot in addition to the server code.”

The researchers discovered that Brunhilda was used up to now to put in totally different Android banking malware often called Alien. In all, the researchers estimate Brunhilda has contaminated greater than 30,000 units. The researchers based mostly the estimate on malicious apps beforehand obtainable within the Play Retailer—some with greater than 10,000 installations every—in addition to figures from third-party markets.

Vultur is programmed to document screens when any of 103 Android banking or cryptocurrency apps are operating within the foreground. Italy, Australia, and Spain had been the nations with essentially the most banking establishments focused.


Apart from banking and cryptocurrency apps, the malware additionally harvests credentials for Fb, Fb-owned WhatsApp messenger, TikTok, and Viber Messenger. Credential harvesting for these apps happens via conventional keylogging, though the ThreatFabric submit didn’t clarify why.

Whereas Google has eliminated all Play Market apps recognized to include Brunhilda, the corporate’s observe document means that new trojanized apps will most likely seem. Android customers ought to solely set up apps that present helpful providers and, even then, solely apps from well-known publishers, when in any respect potential. Folks also needs to pay shut consideration to consumer scores and app habits for indications of malice.

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