We’ve recently found a server that hosts a great number of sites that are used to launch mobile malware, targeting Android OS and Symbian (specifically the J2ME platform).
The server, located in Germany, is managed by a hosting provider known as a haven for cyber criminals.
We found a total of 1,351 websites hosted on the said server and categorize the sites into five segments based on the type of guise they use for the distributed malware:
- Android Market apps
- Opera Mini/ Phone Optimizer apps
- Pornographic apps (sites were unavailable during time of checking)
- App storage sites
- Others (sites that were inaccessible during time of checking)
As for the unavailable sites, it seems that the attacker is still setting them up, or has permanently taken them down. The domains listed under App storage sites, which hosts Apps featured in the other domains, are inaccessible. However, the hosted Apps were still up thus making them available for download through the Android Market App and the Opera Mini/Photo Optimizer App sites.
The sites under Android Market apps displayed a website very much similar to the legitimate one. They feature popular applications like WhatsApp, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Barcode Scanner, Skype, Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube, and others. The files downloaded from such sites are now detected as ANDROIDOS_FAKENOTIFY.A.
On the other hand, the sites that feature download links for Opera Mini and Phone Optimizer lead to J2ME_SMSSEND.E – a malware that can run on devices that support MIDlets.
Among all the categories mentioned, most of sites promoted Opera Mini updates and Photo Optimizer Apps compared with others. Here is a graph showing the distribution of domains based on the categories:
This particular cybercriminal operation presents some interesting findings. Here we saw that the attackers are not necessarily targeting only one platform. Based on the targeted platform, we also saw that cybercriminals use different social engineering lures. Also, despite the emergence and prevalence of platforms such as Android and iOS, the Symbian platform still seems to be targeted as well.
Trend Micro Mobile Security users (both Android and Symbian) are already protected from this threat. All of the malicious domains and files are blocked and detected respectively.