Source code of Cerberus banking Trojan leaked on underground forums

Pierluigi Paganini September 16, 2020

The source code of the infamous Cerberus banking Trojan has been released for free on underground hacking forums following a failed auction. 

The author of the Cerberus banking Trojan has released the source code of the malware on underground hacking forums following a failed auction. 

In July, the authors of the notorious Cerberus Android banking trojan auctioned their project for a price starting at $50,000, but buyers could have had closed the deal for $100,000.

The overall project includes the source code of the components (the malicious APK, the admin panel, and C2 code), the installation guide, a collection of scripts for the setup and a customer list with an active license, along with contacts for customers and potential buyers.

Speaking at Kaspersky NEXT 2020, Kaspersky researcher Dmitry Galov announced that the source code was now distributed for free under the name Cerberus v2.  

The malware-as-a-service Cerberus has emerged in the threat landscape in August 2019, it is an Android RAT developed from scratch that doesn’t borrow the code from other malware.

Before the auction of the code, the maintainers of the Cerberus Trojan were offering their bot for rent for up to $12,000 per year, while they also offered a license for $4,000/3 months and $7,000/6 months.

According to researchers at Threat Fabric who first analyzed the malicious code, Cerberus implements features similar to other Android RAT, it allows operators to full control over infected devices.

The malware implements banking Trojan capabilities such as the use of overlay attacks, the ability to intercept SMS messages and access to the contact list.

  • taking screenshots
  • recording audio
  • recording keylogs
  • sending, receiving, and deleting SMSes, 
  • stealing contact lists
  • forwarding calls
  • collecting device information
  • Tracking device location
  • stealing account credentials, 
  • disabling Play Protect
  • downloading additional apps and payloads
  • removing apps from the infected device
  • pushing notifications
  • locking device’s screen

In July, researchers from AVAST discovered a currency converter application in the Google Play store that was downloaded by more than 10,000 users and that was designed to deliver the Cerberus banking Trojan.

“Despite Cerberus’ Russian speaking developers earmarking a new vision for the project in April this year, auctions for the source code began in late July due to the breakup of the development team,” Kaspersky says. “Due to an unclear culmination of factors, the author later decided to publish the project source code for premium users on a popular Russian-speaking underground forum.”

The availability of the source code of the banking trojan in the underground ecosystem represents a serious threat to the users. Threat actors could use it to customize their own version and spread it in the wild. Kaspersky researchers confirmed that following the leak of the Cerberus source code in the underground, they observed an immediate increase in the number of infections across Europe and Russia.

Unlike past campaigns associated with this threat, multiple infections affected Russian mobile users because it was also used by threat actors operating out of Russia.

The maintainers of the Cerberus Android Trojan decided to sell the source code because the group split up and they have no time to provide 24/7 support.

Cerberus Android Banking Trojan AuctionAG
Source: Bleeping Computer

“We continue to investigate all found artifacts associated with the code, and will track related activity,” Galov concluded. “But, in the meantime, the best form of defense that users can adopt involves aspects of security hygiene that they should be practicing already across their mobile devices and banking security.”

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Cerberus)

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