A new Android banking trojan is also ransomware

The Xbot is not widespread yet but is targeting devices in Australia and Russia

A new kind of Android malware steals online banking credentials and can hold a device's files hostage in exchange for a ransom, delivering a particularly nasty one-two punch.

The malware, called Xbot, is not widespread yet and appears to be just targeting devices in Australia and Russia, wrote researchers with Palo Alto Networks in a blog post on Thursday.

But they believe whomever is behind Xbot may try to expand its target base.

"As the author appears to be putting considerable time and effort into making this Trojan more complex and harder to detect, it’s likely that its ability to infect users and remain hidden will only grow," Palo Alto wrote.

Xbot uses a technique called activity hijacking to carry out attacks aimed at stealing online banking and personal details.

It essentially allows the malware to launch a different action when someone tries to launch an application. User are unaware that they're actually using the wrong program or function.

Activity hijacking take advantage of features in Android versions prior to 5.0. Google has since developed defenses against it, so only older devices or those that have not been updated would be affected.

In one type of attack, Xbot monitors the app a user has launched. If it is a particular online banking app, Xbot intervenes and displays an interface that obscures the real app.

The bogus interface is actually downloaded from a command-and-control server and displayed using WebView, Palo Alto wrote. The legitimate applications are not actually tampered with.

"So far we’ve found seven different faked interfaces," Palo Alto wrote. "We identified six of them – they’re imitating apps for some of the most popular banks in Australia. The interfaces are very similar to these banks’ official apps’ login interfaces. If a victim fills out the form, the bank account number, password, and security tokens will be sent," to the command-and-control server.

Xbot can also bring up an interface through WebView saying the device has been infected with CryptoLocker, a well-known ransomware program. Ransomware encrypts files and then asks for payment for the decryption key. In this case, the attackers ask for US$100 to be paid through a spoofed PayPal site.

Xbot will actually encrypt files on the device's external storage. However, the encryption algorithm used is weak, and it would be possible to recover the files, Palo Alto wrote.

Xbot can also scrape the phone for personal data, such as contacts, SMSes and phone numbers and send the data to the attackers.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Google 5.0Palo AltoXbotAndroidtrojanmalware

More about GooglePalo Alto NetworksPayPal

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Jeremy Kirk

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place