Lookout Mobile security warns of a major new Android malware family called “Bad News” that uses highly advanced techniques to spread and manipulate infected smartphones
QUOTE: Lookout has discovered BadNews, a new malware family, in 32 apps across four different developer accounts in Google Play. According to Google Play statistics, the combined affected applications have been downloaded between 2,000,000 – 9,000,000 times. We notified Google and they promptly removed all apps and suspended the associated developer accounts pending further investigation. All Lookout users are protected against this threat.
BadNews masquerades as an innocent, if somewhat aggressive advertising network. This is one of the first times that we’ve seen a malicious distribution network clearly posing as an ad network. Because it’s challenging to get malicious bad code into Google play, the authors of Badnews created a malicious advertising network, as a front, that would push malware out to infected devices at a later date in order to pass the app scrutiny.
Badnews has the ability to send fake news messages, prompt users to install applications and sends sensitive information such as the phone number and device ID to its Command and Control (C&C) server. BadNews uses its ability to display fake news messages in order to push out other types of monetization malware and promote affiliated apps. During our investigation we caught BadNews pushing AlphaSMS, well known premium rate SMS fraud malware, to infected devices.
BadNews is a significant development in the evolution of mobile malware because it has achieved very wide distribution by using a server to delay its behavior. If an app has not yet engaged in malicious behavior, a typical app vetting process would of course conclude that it was safe because the malicious behavior has not yet occurred.