One of the most skillful malware campaigns to date has been discovered on Android systems. The pest was christened “AbstractEmu“. It disguises itself very well and offers the attacker extensive access to the infected device.
AbstractEmu was found and analyzed by the security researchers at Lookout Threat Labs. So far, they have identified 19 apps in which the malicious code is hidden. The applications are distributed via the Google Play Store and various third-party platforms such as Amazon Appstore, Samsung Galaxy Store, Aptoide, and APKPure. As a rule, these were tools such as password managers and app launchers, all of which also offer the advertised functions and therefore attract little attention.
It is sufficient for the user to open the respective app after the download to pave the way for the malware to enter the system. AbstractEmu then sends information about the newly infected system to the command infrastructure and then falls into a waiting mode, in which it remains until further instructions come in from outside. Overall, the malware camouflages itself quite well and is difficult to detect.
Many Exploits Can Be Used
AbstractEmu uses a number of exploits to secure root access to the Android system, including a vulnerability in MediaTek chips that are in use in millions of devices that have already been sold. But other vulnerabilities, some of which have been known for a long time, are also exploited. The operators of the malware are apparently relying on the fact that there are quite a number of smartphones that almost never receive patches – either because the manufacturers do not deliver them or the users do not install them.
The Lookout experts also see AbstractEmu as a relevant find because in recent years there has been less and less Android malware that allowed attackers to gain root access. The improved security measures had taken effect here – but it has now been shown that Android systems are attractive enough to invest a lot of effort in order to obtain extensive access.
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