From third-party Android store to SMS Trojan

In lieu of downloading and installing apps from the official Android app store, users often turn to third-party stores. The reasons vary, from wanting a particular app that isn’t available on the official store to seeking cracked apps—versions that have been modified to disable certain features, such as copyright protections—of official Android apps. While examining Zscaler cloud traffic, the ThreatLabZ research team came across one of these third-party app stores that seemed to be hosting Android games. The store, called “Smart Content Store,” portrays itself as an Android app store and uses names such as sexy.smartcontentstore[.]com and games.smartcontentstore[.]com.     Fig 1: Third-party app store homepage   At first glance, the site appears to be an app store hosting Android games, but we were unable to download any apps. Clicking the Install option on any of the games, as seen in screenshot above, leads back to the same page.   Upon further examination, we found many direct links to APKs being downloaded from these domains. The image below shows the direct downloads of these APKs.   Fig 2: Zscaler dashboard   These apps have different package names and certificates, but every app exhibits the same functionality. We have provided an analysis of one of the apps below. (A complete list of apps can be found in the IOC at the end of blog.)   App summary APK Name: smartworld_-_WIN_-_500929091890143_-_.apk Package name: vaya.bailecito.epore.saturda Size: 2100203 bytes MD5: 091E91A9ED7202CD44DC5E1C4B3DCC90 Technical details As soon as the app is installed, it appears as a blank space. As shown in the screenshot below, the app icon and app name are missing. Upon clicking the space (the invisible icon) the app displays its first activity with two options: Smart World and Sexy World.     Fig 3: Invisible app icon and the first activity   During the initial phase, the app sends several requests to hxxp://play4funclub[.]com/public/notification/is-active, but during our analysis, we just received 301-Moved Permanently in response. These requests can be seen in the screenshot below.    Fig 4: Initial requests    Upon clicking either of the two options shown above, Smart World or Sexy World, the app asks for Administrator privileges, stating “To view all the porn videos you need to update. Click to activate.” This message can be seen in the screenshot below (left image).   Fig 5: Admin privileges   As soon as the victim activates admin rights, a request is sent to another domain. Nothing happened as a result of this request, so we believe that it is simply an indication to the attacker whether the victim has activated admin rights or not.    Fig 6: Request upon enabling admin rights   After a certain amount of time passes, the app starts sending requests to hxxp://[.]com/scripts/app_sms_request_get_number.php with details about the victim’s device and location. It sends the following information in its POST request: Android version Installation date Version Date (Date of request)  Country code Carrier  Device ID The screenshot below shows the request and response taking place between the compromised device and attacker:   Fig 7: Request and response related to the SMS message   The app acts according to the response received from the attacker’s domain. If the response contains “status”:”OK”, the app fetches the desired details from the response. In our case, it was a phone number and message body. Further, it sends an SMS message to that specific number and message body. This functionality is visible in the screenshot below where the response from the attacker is contained in paramJSONObject and is based on the response, sendTextMessage; this response initiates a routine that sends actual SMS messages.   Fig 8: Sending SMS functionality   During this phase of analysis, we observed several attempts to send SMS messages to different phone numbers with different text as the message body. This can result in high costs to the victim. Some examples of the SMS messages can be seen in the table below: Phone # Message Body 6768482371 message:france athletes employed 6857215675 message:experience iran yarn combines field 6768482371 message:luther exercise queens 2347003300131 message:hungary contributing task bird 6857215675 message:boolean wisconsin criticism verification republic 2347003300131 message:exchange audience nc medicaid 2347003300131 message:ut controlled salt customized consider 6768482371 message:legislative wayne brand hungarian 6768482371 message:consulting gui contrary eclipse 79697530171 message:boards tits difficulties 6768482371 message:royalty relay mv 6768482371 message:boards sie gabriel computer 6768482371 message:mods html chronic 6768482371 message:integer coleman monsters 6745596671 message:capabilities labels addiction 6768482371 message:checking upskirt football possibilities 6745596671 message:academics actively matrix ga 2347003300131 message:incidence quality mrs estimated default 6745590060 message:estate mexican legal flour 6768482371 message:cleared connectivity divx 2347003300131 message:cafe activists our constantly 6745596671 message:brush accepted role 6745596671 message:plain weed senators reform framing 6745596671 message:represents fig answers signup 6745596671 message:animation failure lucas browser poetry 2347003300131 message:biodiversity present solving herbal regulations 6857215675 message:shakira wanna movie freight 6768482371 message:shipping uzbekistan senators optimize basically 6857215675 message:folks tamil cooper 6857215675 message:picking maine shapes men wives   This app also has permission to view the victim’s contact list, which means the app can easily spread itself using those contacts. We also found other high-level permissions and we are analyzing the sample further to determine their functions and potential impact. We will update this report with any interesting findings.   Conclusion The Zscaler Cloud Sandbox successfully flagged the sample as malicious based on indicators found in the sample, as shown in the report screenshot below.   Fig 9: Zscaler Cloud Sandbox   Zscaler advises Android users to download apps only from official app stores. Using third-party stores may lead to the installation of apps that have hidden, malicious intentions, as described in this case. We also advise users to keep the Unknown Sources option off at all times on your Android device. Keep this off will prevent any third-party app to directly get installed on the device.    IOCs Domains insidecontentsp(dot)com incontsmart(dot)com   MD5 044b97016fdcd22c8c2211014e65c562 bb5a4cea098a29ac8533c561784908b4 58f237f346d81385eaa2005cd642e28c f50091fbe2fef0c9501f242afb356c96 2cbf13b90b76300f9668c2660b9cbc35 5c68ff95c2278da0fcc13b4c46f7978b 091e91a9ed7202cd44dc5e1c4b3dcc90 88c2ccec249ff6df0fd525e09e700861 8ac5e78f4bc7212fcadd805c924ba67c eaa2f149f33e35906095857064721044 60772ad9808a5bab595f3459e8d5bb4c 9f4ff0d5425f1542fe4aef50cb1b20dd 64d5bba5e3a18f971ee5904ccc9b7826 20614d2d2471b2a7fcfbbf67f0fdbfb6 6f31a49153b6b504ce8804c91113852f d717c2c4ebce47d40aea491e911b1c5d 3124ae1a165d2fd1f5ab4e6b83a1100a 4f3289108728c33866e62e99a1fed40d 1a027810c28fad34c7590ddb18dc6a51 4fd81f83d8cb40f6fb0bd1ad94b8ea7f 32131606ac4448683dad9148e4754f81 afe96ae477648b152e7434ac5c0790c6 793fc48a4947a3c19efc570ba8af1235 62ff00af19ad0ed02ab65f3d8a6ceb27 61d9506df0a016435297829bb386e4b8 61ded4d4c3268c354a794dc4c6dea530 81685083658d7e839e68489391f15a05 2bcc9865edb66883b82f43c34e6ac19d a8a75b3055a9aa27a26d326061173287 8dbbcdfa3d4d1207e325890680f98d4a 58271be93858eb5baeaa401fe1d583bb a350e8b88d586e26e9dc858c83407ebc a5219ee0c3c10ca8db991d05fe34b9b0 ca17d9260a247e6457876a2f98e3fab7 064a46635c0bda86bcc42ae484ee5c25 874e3af735b6e17ddd596c29e2fc55d5 cfe0d20dbf674f8619584c850eda2186 0cadfdf04df0f3dba0e8a0fdb087993b dada3ef23b89c9e0f535aa7dd49360e1 b34d3dbd6241f63670e010f7da05630b 43a70f5f1929e882894a023a67ffe23f 00b9c19f229892ad6f0c45f75a5bf729 154ee512e7142f56118209ec9375433d 4cd7745e9f0043ed3da046f88249b221 1efefb04a779b5cd7ccfc1aa4b104fc1   22b5cec87a9227abbaa6f120f4809230   0648e6c78d85ce62eed06fbb94283712

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