Security researchers have identified 12 malicious Android applications, disguised to appear as official government COVID-19 contact-tracing apps, distributing malware onto devices.
The Anomali Threat Research (ATR) team found multiple applications containing a range of malware families, primarily banking Trojan Anubis and SpyNote, an Android Trojan with the goal of collecting and monitoring data on infected devices. Once installed on a device, these apps are built to download and install malware to monitor the device and steal banking credentials and personal information.
These apps are likely being distributed through other mobile apps, third-party stores, and websites, among other sources, ATR says. At the time of publication, its research did not identify any of these apps as present in the Google Play Store.
Researchers say the malicious applications appear to target citizens of multiple countries. Attackers are imitating official apps to take advantage of the brand recognition and perceived trust of software released by government agencies, they explain.
"This activity consists of separate incidents of malicious activity themed around COVID-19 and should not be viewed as a coordinated campaign," ATR wrote in a blog post on the discovery. "Multiple countries were found to have malicious activity themed directly after government and/or malicious COVID-19-themed applications."
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