ESET researchers have discovered an Android app on Google Play that was hiding a new remote access trojan (RAT) dubbed AhRat.
The app, named iRecorder – Screen Recorder, has more than 50,000 installs. The app was initially uploaded to the Google Play store without malicious features on September 19th, 2021. Threat actors introduced the support for malicious functionalities in version 1.3.8 which was uploaded on August 2022.
The app was designed to extract microphone recordings and stealing files with specific extensions, a circumstance that suggests it was involved in an espionage campaign. Researchers have not detected the AhRat anywhere else in the wild.
The AhRat is a customization of the open-source AhMyth Android RAT (remote access trojan). The AhMyth RAT supports various malicious functions, including exfiltrating call logs, contacts, and text messages, obtaining a list of files on the device, tracking the device location, sending SMS messages, recording audio, and taking pictures. However, ESET observed only a limited set of malicious features derived from the original AhMyth RAT in both versions of AhRat analyzed by its experts.
ESET immediately notified Google that quickly removed the iRecorder app from its store. The experts pointed out that the app can also be found in alternative and unofficial Android stores.
ESET was not able to link the AhRat malware to any known threat actors. The researchers only reported that previously, the open-source AhMyth was employed by the Pakistan-linked APT group Transparent Tribe (aka APT36).
“The AhRat research serves as a good example of how an initially legitimate application can transform into a malicious one, even after many months, spying on its users and compromising their privacy. While it is possible that the app developer had intended to build up a user base before compromising their Android devices through an update or that a malicious actor introduced this change in the app; so far, we have no evidence for either of these hypotheses.” concludes ESET that also shared Indicators of Compromise (IoC).
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