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Banking Trojan targets Android 6

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Kaspersky Lab has discovered a modification of the Gugi banking trojan that can bypass new Android 6 security features designed to block phishing and ransomware attacks.

The modified trojan forces users into giving it the right to overlay genuine apps, send and view SMS, make calls, and more. It is spread through social engineering and its use by cybercriminals is growing rapidly: between April and early August, 2016, there was a ten-fold increase in its number of victims.

The Gugi Trojan’s aim is to steal users’ mobile banking credentials by overlaying their genuine banking apps with phishing apps, and to seize credit card details by overlaying the Google Play Store app. In late 2015, Android OS version 6 was launched, with new security features designed specifically to block such attacks. Among other things, apps now need the user’s permission to overlay other apps, and to request approval for actions such as sending an SMS and making calls the first time they want to access them.

Kaspersky Lab anti-malware experts have uncovered a modification of the Gugi Trojan that can successfully bypass these two new features.

Initial infection with the modified trojan takes place through social engineering, usually with a spam SMS that encourages users to click on a malicious link. Once installed on the device, the trojan sets about getting the access rights it needs. When ready, the malware displays the following sign on the user’s screen: “additional rights needed to work with graphics and windows”. There is only one button: “provide.”

When the user clicks on this, they are presented with a screen asking them to authorise app overlay. After receiving permission, the trojan will block the device screen with a message asking for ‘Trojan Device Administrator’ rights, and then asks for permission to send and view SMS and to make calls. If the trojan does not receive all the permissions it needs, it will completely block the infected device. If this happens, the user’s only option is to reboot the device in safe mode and try to uninstall the trojan, an activity that is made harder if the trojan has already gained ‘Trojan Device Administrator’ rights.

Aside from these security workarounds and a few other features, Gugi is a typical banking trojan: stealing financial credentials, SMS and contacts, making USSD requests and sending SMS as directed by the command server. To date, 93% of users attacked by the Gugi Trojan are based in Russia, but its number of victims is on the rise. In the first half of August 2016 there were ten times as many victims as in April 2016.

“Cybersecurity is a never-ending race. OS systems such as Android are continuously updating their security features to make life harder for cybercriminals and safer for customers; cybercriminals are relentless in their attempts to find ways around this; and the security industry is equally busy making sure they don’t succeed. The discovery of the modified Gugi Trojan is a good example of this. In exposing the threat, we can neutralise it, and help to keep people, their devices and their data safe,” said Roman Unucheck, Senior Malware Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab advises Android users to take the following steps to protect themselves against the Gugi Trojan and other malware threats:

·         Don’t automatically agree to hand over rights and permissions when an app asks you to do so – think about what is being asked for, and why you are being asked for it.

·         Install an antimalware solution on all devices and keep OS software up-to-date.

·         Avoid clicking on links in messages from people you don’t know, or in unexpected messages from people you do.

·         Exercise caution at all times when visiting websites: if something looks even slightly suspicious, it probably is.

The Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Gugi family has been known about since December 2015, with the modification Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Gugi.c first discovered in June 2016. Kaspersky Lab products detect all modifications of the Gugi Trojan malware family.

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Cons exploit Telegram ICO

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Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered dozens of highly convincing fake websites claiming to be investment sites for an initial coin offering (ICO) by the Telegram messaging service. Many of these websites appear to belong to the same group. In one case alone, tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency were stolen from victims believing they were investing in ‘Grams’, Telegram’s rumoured new currency. Telegram has not officially confirmed an ICO and has warned people about fraudulent investor sites.

In late 2017, stories started to circulate that the Telegram messaging service was launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to finance a blockchain platform based on its TON (Telegram Open Network) technology. Unverified technical documentation was posted online, but there appears to have been no confirmation from Telegram itself. The resulting confusion seems to have allowed fraudsters to capitalise on investor interest by creating fake sites and stealing vast sums of money.

Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered dozens of such sites, possibly belonging to the same group, claiming to sell tokens for ‘Grams’ and inviting investors to pay with cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, lice litecoin, dash and Bitcoin dash. A record of transactions on one site revealed that the scammers were able to steal at least $35,000 US dollars’ worth of Ethereum from investors.

The researchers found that some of the websites were so convincing that even after Telegram and others began to issue warnings, they were still able to recruit potential investors. Most use a secure connection, require registration and generate a unique online wallet for each new victim, making it harder to track the money.

Judging by the content of the fake websites, it appears they may have common ownership. For example, several have the exactly the same ‘Our Team’ section.

“ICOs are a fairly risky investment and many people don’t yet fully understand how they work, so it is not surprising that high quality fake websites, with seemingly reassuring features such as a secure connection and registration are successful at luring people in. People wishing to invest in an ICO would do well to check with the company behind it and make sure they know exactly who they are giving their money to, or they may never see it again,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice for users considering investing in an ICO:

  • Check for warning signs: for example, some of the fake Telegram ICO websites had the same wrong image next to the name of Telegram’s Chief Product Officer.
  • Do your homework: always check with the brand’s official site to verify the legitimacy of the investment site and, if necessary contact the company’s ICO teams before investing any money or currency.
  • Use reliable security solutions such as Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will warn you if you try to visit fake internet pages.

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Crouching Yeti strikes

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Kaspersky Lab has uncovered infrastructure used by the Russian-speaking APT group Crouching Yeti, also known as Energetic Bear, which includes compromised servers across the world.

According to the research, numerous servers in different countries were hit since 2016, sometimes in order to gain access to other resources. Others, including those hosting Russian websites, were used as watering holes.

Crouching Yeti is a Russian-speaking advanced persistent threat (APT) group that Kaspersky Lab has been tracking since 2010. It is best known for targeting industrial sectors around the world, with a primary focus on energy facilities, for the main purpose of stealing valuable data from victim systems. One of the techniques the group has been widely using is through watering hole attacks: the attackers injected websites with a link redirecting visitors to a malicious server.

Recently Kaspersky Lab has discovered a number of servers, compromised by the group, belonging to different organisations based in Russia, the U.S., Turkey and European countries, and not limited to industrial companies. According to researchers, they were hit in 2016 and 2017 with different purposes. Thus, besides watering hole, in some cases they were used as intermediaries to conduct attacks on other resources.

In the process of analysing infected servers, researchers identified numerous websites and servers used by organisations in Russia, U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America that the attackers had scanned with various tools, possibly to find a server that could be used to establish a foothold for hosting the attackers’ tools and to subsequently develop an attack. Some of the sites scanned may have been of interest to the attackers as candidates for waterhole. The range of websites and servers that captured the attention of the intruders is extensive. Kaspersky Lab researchers found that the attackers had scanned numerous websites of different types, including online stores and services, public organisations, NGOs, manufacturing, etc.

Also, experts found that the group used publicly available malicious tools, designed for analyzing servers, and for seeking out and collecting information. In addition, a modified sshd file with a preinstalled backdoor was discovered. This was used to replace the original file and could be authorised with a ‘master password’.

“Crouching Yeti is a notorious Russian-speaking group that has been active for many years and is still successfully targeting industrial organisations through watering hole attacks, among other techniques. Our findings show that the group compromised servers not only for establishing watering holes, but also for further scanning, and they actively used open-sourced tools that made it much harder to identify them afterwards,” said Vladimir Dashchenko, Head of Vulnerability Research Group at Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT.

“The group’s activities, such as initial data collection, the theft of authentication data, and the scanning of resources, are used to launch further attacks. The diversity of infected servers and scanned resources suggests the group may operate in the interests of the third parties,” he added.

Kaspersky Lab recommends that organisations implement a comprehensive framework against advanced threats comprising of dedicated security solutions for targeted attack detection and incident response, along with expert services and threat intelligence. As a part of Kaspersky Threat Management and Defense, our anti-targeted attack platform detects an attack at early stages by analysing suspicious network activity, while Kaspersky EDR brings improved endpoint visibility, investigation capabilities and response automation. These are enhanced with global threat intelligence and Kaspersky Lab’s expert services with specialisation in threat hunting and incident response.

More details on this recent Crouching Yeti activity can be found on the Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT website.

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