The ever-evolving cyberspace is an active maze that one needs to tread through every day carefully. With more and more people around the world gaining access to the World Wide Web every day, it has become a very high-risk proposition of the market to operate in.
Every day there are newer threats emerging in the form of viruses, malware, Spyware etc., each one more sophisticated than the other. This has led to the emergence of new kind of players in the field who call themselves online cyber security firms.
Lookout is one such firm operating in this space. They have recently released a list of malicious software or apps that have been wreaking havoc in the lives of the less technologically proficient. These apps have the ability to control the infected smartphones remotely.
SonicSpy is the most prolific malicious app that Lookout has detected. They have been able to successfully identify at least three different versions of this app on the Google Play store with the names Troy Chat, Hulk Messenger, and Soniac.
Lookouts report speculates that the developer is based out of Western Asian Country, Iraq. There were over one thousand malicious messaging apps fabricated by the developer. Spy functions were embedded in a public source code of Telegram an instant messaging app, by the developer. This app then renamed the fabricated apps to Soniac, Hulk Messenger, and Troy Chat which then did the job of stealing data.
The Business Model
The malware, after its installation onto the device, behaves just like a normal instant messaging app apart from harboring capabilities to send text messages, make calls, access contacts, wi-fi data and sixty-nine other functions. The developer communicated with the apps using a command and control server located remotely, thereby enabling him to manipulate the smartphone at his own whims.
The Lookout researchers have confirmed that apart from the Google Play Store, the developer also utilized other non-Google app platforms that can be installed onto a device to spread the malware and reach devices. They even speculate that phishing apps were heavily utilized to propagate the download of these malicious apps.
The Game of Cat & Mouse
What one does need to ponder about is how the apps managed to land up on the Play Store even after Google's valiant efforts to spot and weed out the suspicious malware apps utilizing advanced artificial intelligence. Martin Pelikan, Google's security and privacy team expert, has declared open war against such malware and phishing apps.
He has gone on record to state that Google is going to step it's game up in this sphere. A renewed sense of vigor instilled, Martin Pelikan says that he and his team are going to start focusing on signals that have the potential to adversely affect user privacy and any threats resulting out of it and provide users a better experience.