Hydra Android trojan campaign targets customers of European banks

Pierluigi Paganini October 01, 2021

Experts warn of a new Hydra banking trojan campaign targeting European e-banking platform users, including the customers of Commerzbank.  

Experts warn of a malware campaign targeting European e-banking platform users with the Hydra banking trojan. According to malware researchers from the MalwareHunterTeam and Cyble, the new campaign mainly impacted the customers of Commerzbank, Germany’s second-largest bank.  Hydra is an Android Banking Bot that has been active at least since early 2019.

Threat actors set up a page posing as the official CommerzBank page and registered multiple domains on the same IP (91.214.124[.]225). Crooks used the fake website to spread the tainted CommerzBank apps.

Hydra Malware Phishing campaign

According to Cyble researchers, Hydra continues to evolve, the variants employed in the recent campaign incorporates TeamViewer functionality, similar to S.O.V.A. Android banking Trojan, and leverages different encryption techniques to evade detection along with the use of Tor for communication. The new version is also able to disable the Play Protect Android security feature.

The experts warn that the malware requests for two extremely dangerous permissions, BIND_ACCESSIBILITY_PERMISSION and BIND_DEVICE_ADMIN.

The Accessibility Service is a background service that aids users with disabilities, while BIND_ACCESSIBILITY_SERVICE permission allows the app to access the Accessibility Service.

“Malware authors abuse this service to intercept and monitor all activities happening on the device’s screen. For example, using Accessibility Service, malware authors can intercept the credentials entered on another app.” states the analysis published by Cyble. “BIND_DEVICE_ADMIN is a permission that allows fake apps to get admin privileges on the infected device. Hydra can abuse this permission to lock the device, modify or reset the screen lock PIN, etc.”

The malware asks other permissions to carry out malicious activities such as access SMS content, send SMSs, perform calls, modify device settings, spy on user activities, send bulk SMSs to victim’s contacts:

Permission NameDescription
CHANGE_WIFI_STATEModify Device’s Wi-Fi settings
READ_CONTACTSAccess to phone contacts
READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGEAccess device external storage
WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGEModify device external storage
READ_PHONE_STATEAccess phone state and information
CALL_PHONEPerform call without user intervention
READ_SMSAccess user’s SMSs stored in the device
REQUEST_INSTALL_PACKAGESInstall applications without user interaction
SEND_SMSAllows the app to send SMS messages
SYSTEM_ALERT_WINDOWAllows the display of system alerts over other apps

The analysis of the code revealed that various classes are missing in the APK file. The malicious code uses a custom packer to evade signature-based detection.

“We have also observed that the malware authors of Hydra are incorporating new technology to steal information and money from its victims. Alongside these features, the recent trojans have incorporated sophisticated features. We observed the new variants have TeamViewer or VNC functionality and TOR for communication, which shows that TAs are enhancing their TTPs.” concludes Cyble.

“Based on this pattern that we have observed, malware authors are constantly adding new features to the banking trojans to evade detection by security software and to entice cybercriminals to buy the malware. To protect themselves from these threats, users should only install applications from the official Google Play Store.”Follow me on Twitter: @securityaffairs and Facebook

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Hydra)

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