While still rudimentary, fake scareware has made its appearance on the mobile devices.
New fake antivirus scareware pop up with amazing regularity,
but some researchers encountered an intriguing variant that indicates scammers
may begin targeting mobile platforms.
A rogue antivirus masquerading as a Kaspersky Lab antivirus
scanner has been spotted on mobile devices, Dinesh Venkatesan, an anti-malware
researcher, posted on the CA Security Advisor Research Blog
on April 27. The
current scam is designed to trick Russian-speaking users into paying for bogus
The "exponential growth" of the smartphone market means
these kinds of threats will be "growing proportionately," Venkatesan wrote.
The fake antivirus appears to be spreading using social
engineering tactics, according to Venkatesan. Once launched on the device, it presented
a "friendly UI" and asks the user whether it should scan the phone for viruses.
After running the scan, it informs the user that two threats have been
When the user tried to remove the infection, they were shown
a bogus error code "07931020" and a message explaining that the software
encountered an error when trying to remove the malware.
"The sample is
supposedly spread by some social engineering tricks where users would have been
provided with support numbers/email id to contact to resolve those error
codes," Venkatesan said.
Contacting that support number or address is presumably when
the users are tricked into paying for an upgrade to remove the alleged
infection. Venkatesan didn't have that information when analyzing the malware
sample and couldn't complete the analysis to determine how the malware authors
were monetizing the scam.
The app is not very sophisticated at the moment, suggesting
it was an early stage experiment for the app developer. On a mobile platform,
SMS-based micro payments seem to be the most logical way to trick money out of
the victims. The rogue scanner has hardcoded the malware names as it always
"found" the same "Trojan moby" and "RebBrowser" in two locations that are
clearly from the Windows file system. While it is "scanning" the files, it
played an audio file in the background of a crashing sound just before
displaying the error message.
Users have become the primary target for attackers with
clever social engineering tricks designed to trick them into clicking links and
running software. "The adversary targets the user because they know that
regardless of all the patches applied to technology, one cannot apply a patch
to Layer 8-the human brain," Anup Ghosh, chief research scientist at Invincea,
Mobile users need to be on the alert against such social
engineering tricks and they should also be using a legitimate mobile security
, Venkatesan said. Users should "exercise basic security principles"
while surfing and be skeptical of free downloads, according to Venkatesan.
Instead of downloading pirated or free versions of software from unofficial app
markets, users should stick with official security products available on the
Malware developers are increasingly developing threats that
are localized for a specific region, Korean security vendor AhnLab warned in a
recent report. Authors are frequently translating the fake antivirus program's
graphical user interface to the language the operating system is running and
demand payment in the local currency to increase the scareware's success rate,
the report found.