GravityRAT returns disguised as an end-to-end encrypted chat app

Threat actors are distributing the GravityRAT remote access trojan masqueraded as an end-to-end encrypted chat application named SoSafe Chat.

Threat actors are distributing the GravityRAT RAT masqueraded as an end-to-end encrypted chat application named SoSafe Chat.

GravityRAT was first spotted by Cisco Talos researchers in 2017 who speculate it remained under the radar for at least a couple of years [since 2015],

In October 2020, researchers from Kaspersky Lab spotted new variants of the GravityRAT malware that was able to infect both Android and macOS devices. GravityRAT is a malware strain known for checking the CPU temperature of Windows computers to avoid being executed in sandboxes and virtual machines.

The GravityRAT malware Access Trojan (RAT) is believed to be the work of Pakistani hacker groups, it was mainly employed in attacks aimed at Indian users.

The recent campaign spotted by Cyble still targets high-profile individuals in India disguising as a secure messaging app called ‘SoSafe Chat.’

The analysis of the source code of the app revealed the existence of a website ([.]in) used by the attackers. The site is still online, but the download link is no longer working and the registration option is not allowed.

Threat actors likely used the site to distribute the malware through malvertising campaign, or links shared via social media posts and chat messages.

The manifest shows the malware requests forty-two different permissions, the attackers could abuse thirteen permissions to perform the following actions:

  • Read SMS, Call Logs, and Contacts data.
  • Change or modify system settings.
  • Read current cellular network information, the phone number and the serial number of the victim’s phone, the status of any ongoing calls, and a list of any Phone Accounts registered on the device.
  • Read or write the files on the device’s external storage.
  • Record audio.
  • Gets connected network information.
  • Get the device’s location.

“Gravity RAT is a malware that targets users to steal sensitive information such as Contacts data, SMS, call logs, files, and records audio of the device without the user’s knowledge. It is known for targeting the Indian Armed Forces.” concludes the report from Cyble.

“Threat Actors constantly adapt their methods to avoid detection and find new ways to target users through sophisticated techniques. Such malicious applications often masquerade as legitimate applications to confuse users into installing them. Users should install applications only after verifying their authenticity and install them exclusively from the official Google Play Store to avoid such attacks.”

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, GravityRAT)

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Pierluigi Paganini

Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer. Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US. Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines. Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.

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