Bogus news app used to deliver Hacking Team spy tool

Trend Micro found the app, along with exploit code and instructions, in the leaked data

Trend Micro said Hacking Team offered a bogus news app to customers that delivered its flagship spying tool to Android devices.

Trend Micro said Hacking Team offered a bogus news app to customers that delivered its flagship spying tool to Android devices.

Data stolen from Hacking Team continues to yield information about the company's infiltration techniques. The latest find is a fake Android news app, which was used to install its flagship surveillance tool.

The app is called "BeNews," the same name as a long-shuttered news website, wrote Wish Wu, mobile threat response engineer, on Trend Micro's blog.

Inside the app is a backdoor that appears to have been used to load the Android version of Hacking Team's Remote Control System (RCS), also known as Galileo, a data-collecting tool the company sold to law enforcement and security agencies worldwide.

That malicious component takes advantage of a local privilege escalation vulnerability, CVE-2014-3153, Wu wrote. It is effective against unpatched Android versions from Froyo 2.2 to KitKat 4.4.4.

"We believe that the Hacking Team provided the app to customers to be used as a lure to download RCSAndroid malware on a target's Android device," Wu wrote.

Google scans its Play store for potentially malicious applications, but it appears Hacking Team devised a method so BeNews would not be classified as such after it is uploaded. Android apps ask for permission for certain activities. BeNews initially asks for only three benign ones in order to avoid being blocked by Google, and no exploit code is included in the app, Wu wrote.

After it passes the scan, it uses dynamic loading to download and then execute the malicious component after a person has downloaded it.

Trend Micro found the source code for the backdoor and server within the 400GB of data stolen from Hacking Team, which had long been criticized for selling spying tools to countries with questionable human rights and civil liberty records. The security company also found detailed instructions intended for customers describing how to deploy the malicious app.

Since the data breach, Hacking Team has regrouped and said it planned to develop a new version of RCS to allow its clients to resume what it termed "criminal and intelligence investigations."

The data breach exposed several zero-day vulnerabilities, including three in Adobe Systems' Flash Player, which Hacking Team's clients relied on to install the company's software. Adobe and Microsoft issued patches for Hacking Team-related flaws, which means the company may need fresh zero-day vulnerabilities.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags malwaremobile securityHacking Team

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Skywatcher Dobsonian 8″ Collapsible Telescope

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Whodunnit™ Duo-Scope MFL-007 Microscope Kit

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?