New Android malware targeting banks in Italy, Spain, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands

Security researchers with Cleafy on Monday disclosed a new Android trojan that hijacks users’ credentials and SMS messages to facilitate fraudulent activities against banks across Europe.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

A new Android trojan has been identified by security researchers, who said on Monday that once it is successfully installed in the victim's device, those behind it can obtain a live stream of the device screen and also interact with it via its Accessibility Services.

The malware, dubbed "Teabot" by security researchers with Cleafy, has been used to hijack users' credentials and SMS messages to facilitate fraudulent activities against banks in Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Cleafy's Threat Intelligence and Incident Response team first discovered the banking trojan in January and found that it enabled fraud against more than 60 banks across Europe. By March 29, Cleafy analysts found the trojan being used against Italian banks and by May, banks in Belgium and Netherlands were also dealing with it. 

Research shows that Teabot is still under development but initially only focused on Spanish banks before moving on to banks in Germany and Italy. The malware now is currently supporting 6 different languages, including Spanish, English, Italian, German, French, and Dutch. 

The app was initially named TeaTV before repeatedly switching titles to "VLC MediaPlayer," "Mobdro," "DHL," "UPS," and "bpost." 

"When the malicious app has been downloaded on the device, it tries to be installed as an "Android Service," which is an application component that can perform long-running operations in the background. This feature is abused by TeaBot to silently hide from the user, once installed, preventing also detection and ensuring its persistence," the Cleafy report said. 

Once the TeaBot is installed, it will request Android permissions to observe your actions, retrieve window content, and perform arbitrary gestures. ‍When the permissions are granted, the app will remove its icon from the device, according to Cleafy study.

Saumitra Das, CTO of cybersecurity firm Blue Hexagon said Teabot represents a shift in mobile malware from just being a sideline issue to being a mainstream problem just as malware on traditional endpoints. 

"Threat actors realize the true potential of mobile devices and the threat they can pose to the end-user," Das said.  

"It is important to remember that even though the apps are not on Google Play, the phishing/social engineering tactics used by the actors behind Teabot/Flubot are as good as any threat family on the PC side; that within a short time frame, they can manage to get a huge infection base. These threats should not be underestimated."

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