Home Security New Android malware a jack of all trades – and master of them too

New Android malware a jack of all trades – and master of them too

Android malware is common these days but security vendor Kaspersky Lab says it has encountered one which stands out for the range of activities it can carry out once it has infected a device: mining digital currencies, annoying users with constant ads, launching DDoS attacks from the affected device and more.

In one case, due to the load caused by mining activity, the battery of a mobile phone, on which Loapi was installed as a test case, began to bulge and deformed the phone cover.

Called Loapi, the malware infects devices when users visit a malicious website to which they are redirected. Kaspersky said it had found about 20 such websites, with the domain names referring to well-known anti-virus apps and also one famous porn site.

After installing itself, the malware keeps asking for administrator permissions, nagging the user into submission through persistence. While it checks to see if the infected device is rooted, it never used root privileges, Kaspersky said, adding that it was possible that these permissions would be used in some new module added to the malware later.

Once admin privileges were obtained, Loapi either hid its icon in the menu or else simulated anti-virus apps, depending on the type of application it was masquerading as.

If a user tried to revoke the admin permissions which Loapi had gained, the app locked the device and closed the screen which had the device manager settings.

loapi big

Some of the icons that Loapi uses.

The malware also had what Kaspersky called an interesting way of protecting itself.

"(It) is capable of receiving from its C&C (command and control) server a list of apps that pose a danger," Kaspersky researchers Nikita Buchka, Anton Kivva and Dmitry Galov wrote.

"This list is used to monitor the installation and launch of those dangerous apps. If one of the apps is installed or launched, then the trojan shows a fake message claiming it has detected some malware and, of course, prompts the user to delete it."

And as with the method used to obtain admin permissions, the malware repeatedly showed such prompts to nag the user into deleting software that could pose a danger to its existence on the device.

loapi delete

The nag screen that Loapi displays when an app that could be dangerous to its existence is installed on an infected device.

Loapi had modules to show ads to the user, send and receive SMS messages depending on what instructions it received from its command and control server, subscribe the user to various services, act as a proxy for denial of service attacks, and also mine for the digital currency monero.

"Loapi is an interesting representative from the world of malicious Android apps," Buchka, Kivva and Galov wrote.

"Its creators have implemented almost the entire spectrum of techniques for attacking devices.

"The only thing missing is user espionage, but the modular architecture of this trojan means it’s possible to add this sort of functionality at any time."

Screenshots: courtesy Kaspersky Lab


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.