Home Security Android malware hijacks DNS settings to spread infection

Mobile malware that has been christened Roaming Mantis has been found to be hijacking DNS settings on routers and redirecting users to malicious websites leading to the installation of trojanised applications.

Researcher Suguru Ishimaru from security firm Kaspersky Lab said the malware had been seen in Japan in March.

"According to our telemetry data, this malware was detected more than 6000 times, though the reports came from just 150 unique users (from 9 February to 9 April)," he wrote in a blog post giving details of the malware.

"Of course, this is down to the nature of the malware distribution, but it also suggests a very painful experience for some users, who saw the same malware appear again and again in their network. More than half of the detections were observed targeting the Asian region."

The Roaming Mantis malware used the simple, but efficient, trick of DNS hijacking. Explaining this, Ishimaru said if a user tried to access a website through a compromised router they would be sent to a malicious website which still showed the URL of the legitimate site that the user had tried to access in the first place.

After this, a pop-up for a bogus update for the Chrome browser showed up on the user's mobile. Once the user clicked OK on this, the trojanised application was downloaded and installed.

The aim was to steal the user's credentials, including those for two-factor authentication, give the attacker control over the Android device in question.

Given the available clues, Ishimaru said that it looked like the attacker had a financial motive and was not overly sophisticated insofar as his/her technical skills were concerned.

"Our research revealed that the malware contains Android application IDs for popular mobile banking and game applications in South Korea," Ishimaru said.

"The malware is most prevalent in South Korea, and Korean is the first language targeted... Based on our findings, it appears the malicious app was originally distributed to South Korean targets. Support was then added for Traditional Chinese, English and Japanese, broadening its target base in the Asian region."


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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the sitecame into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.


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