Android Malware Discovered on Google Play That Spreads Via WhatsApp


A brand new Android malware has been found that existed as an app on Google Play and is claimed to unfold by way of WhatsApp conversations. Called FlixOnline, the app pretended to permit customers to view world Netflix content material. It was, nevertheless, designed to observe the person’s WhatsApp notifications and ship automated replies to their incoming messages with the content material it receives from the hacker. Google pulled the app instantly from the Play retailer after the corporate was reached out to. However, it was downloaded a whole lot of occasions earlier than it obtained eliminated.

Researchers at menace intelligence agency Check Point Research found the FlixOnline app on Google Play. When the app is downloaded from the Play retailer and put in, the underlying malware begins a service that requests “Overlay,” “Battery Optimisation Ignore,” and “Notification” permissions, the researchers mentioned in a press observe.

The function of acquiring these permissions is believed to permit the malicious app to create new home windows on prime of different apps, cease the malware from being shut down by the gadget’s battery optimisation routine, and acquire entry to all notifications.

Instead of enabling any reliable service, the FlixOnline app displays the person’s WhatsApp notifications and sends an auto-reply message to all WhatsApp conversations that lures victims with free entry to Netflix. The message additionally incorporates a hyperlink that might enable hackers to achieve person info.

The “wormable” malware, which signifies that it may unfold by itself, might unfold additional by way of malicious hyperlinks and will even extort customers by threatening to ship delicate WhatsApp information or conversations to all their contacts.

Check Point Research notified Google concerning the existence of the FlixOnline app and the small print of its analysis. Google shortly eliminated the app from the Play retailer upon receiving the small print. However, the researchers discovered that the app was downloaded almost 500 occasions over the course of two months, earlier than it went offline.

The researchers additionally consider that whereas the actual app in query was faraway from Google Play after it was reported, the malware might return by way of one other comparable app sooner or later.

“The fact that the malware was able to be disguised so easily and ultimately bypass Play Store’s protections raises some serious red flags. Although we stopped one campaign of the malware, the malware family is likely here to stay. The malware may return hidden in a different app,” mentioned Aviran Hazum, Manager of Mobile Intelligence at Check Point, in a ready quote.

The affected customers are suggested to take away the malicious app from their gadget and alter their passwords.

It is essential to notice whereas the malware variant accessible by way of the FlixOnline app was designed to unfold by way of WhatsApp, the moment messaging app does not embody any explicit loophole that allowed the circulation of malicious content material. Instead, the researchers discovered that it was Google Play that wasn’t capable of limit entry to the app at first look — regardless of utilizing a mixture of automated instruments and preloaded protections together with Play Protect.


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