A new Android banking trojan with over 50,000 installations has been observed distributed via the official Google Play Store with the goal of targeting 56 European banks and carrying out harvesting sensitive information from compromised devices.
Dubbed Xenomorph by Dutch security firm ThreatFabric, the in-development malware is said to share overlaps with another banking trojan tracked under the moniker Alien while also being “radically different” from its predecessor in terms of the functionalities offered.
“Despite being a work-in-progress, Xenomorph is already sporting effective overlays and being actively distributed on official app stores,” ThreatFabric’s founder and CEO, Han Sahin, said. “In addition, it features a very detailed and modular engine to abuse accessibility services, which in the future could power very advanced capabilities, like ATS.”
Alien, a remote access trojan (RAT) with notification sniffing and authenticator-based 2FA theft features, emerged shortly after the demise of the infamous Cerberus malware in August 2020. Since then, other forks of Cerberus have been spotted in the wild, including ERMAC in September 2021.
Xenomorph, like Alien and ERMAC, is yet another example of an Android banking trojan that’s focused on circumventing Google Play Store’s security protections by masquerading as productivity apps such as “Fast Cleaner” to trick unaware victims into installing the malware.
It’s worth noting that a fitness training dropper app with over 10,000 installations — dubbed GymDrop — was found delivering the Alien banking trojan payload in November by masking it as a “new package of workout exercises.”
Fast Cleaner, which has the package name “vizeeva.fast.cleaner” and continues to available on the app store, has been most popular in Portugal and Spain, data from mobile app market intelligence firm Sensor Tower reveals, with the app making its first appearance in the Play Store towards the end of January 2022.
What’s more, reviews for the app from users come with warnings that “this app has malware” and that it “ask[s] for an update to be confirmed continuously.” Another user said: “It puts malware on the device and apart from that it has a self-protection system so that you cannot uninstall it.”
Also put to use by Xenomorph is the time-tested tactic of prompting the victims to grant it Accessibility Service privileges and abuse the permissions to conduct overlay attacks, wherein the malware injects rogue login screens atop targeted apps from Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Belgium to siphon credentials and other personal information.
Additionally, it’s equipped with a notification interception feature to extract two-factor authentication tokens received via SMS, and get the list of installed apps, the results of which are exfiltrated to a remote command-and-control server.
“The surfacing of Xenomorph shows, once again, that threat actors are focusing their attention on landing applications on official markets,” the researchers said. “Modern Banking malware is evolving at a very fast rate, and criminals are starting to adopt more refined development practices to support future updates.”