We have found a new threat we are calling Android.TechnoReaper. This malware has two parts: a downloader available on the Google Play Market and the spyware app it downloads. The downloaders are disguised as font installing apps, as seen below:
A new Trojan quietly circulating in the wild uses components from a commercial optical character recognition (OCR) application to decode captchas, those jumbled-text images meant to help a website discern human activity from automated bots.
The OCR-using captcha breaking tool is just one component of the Trojan. Its main purpose appears to be to fill out contest entries, online polls, and other forms relating to marketing campaigns originating in the US, and it uses the OCR-cracking software in order to read the captchas and submit the form entries, on pages where the website presents a captcha to the user.
And this is not just any captcha-cracka, but a Swiss Army Knife of sorts. The maker of the “Advanced Captcha Recognition Engine” tool, based in China, claims that the tool is capable of bypassing more than 30 different captcha systems, including those used by Yahoo, MSN, and some of the largest portal sites and banks in China.
The captcha decoding tool itself is a kludge, marrying some bespoke files and components expropriated from an older version of a commercial optical character recognition (OCR) suite called TOCR. The UK-based company that makes the TOCR software, Transym Computer Services, also licenses its components to third parties, though it’s not clear they knowingly have a relationship with the Chinese captcha cracker maker, nor were they aware that parts of their engine was repurposed for sale to Chinese malfeasants. The files appear to have been stolen or pirated, and used without Transym’s knowledge.
Over the past year, we’ve seen a huge jump in the number of mass downloader spyware. These small executable files have just one job, and they do it very well: They pull down huge numbers of additional installers, which in turn place a large number of password stealing Trojans, ad-clickers, and still more downloaders on the unfortunate victim’s PC.
The trend appears to be that most of the servers from which these phishing Trojans originate are registered within China’s .cn top-level domain, and the phishers themselves target (mostly) the login details for online multiplayer videogames played, primarily, in China, and in some cases, more widely in Asia.
Putting aside the rationale for what the phishers target (the goal may be purely financial, but that’s a discussion for another time), what’s really interesting is how the techniques to massively infect a victim’s PC have evolved, possibly to avoid network-based signature detection techniques that can identify Windows executable files while they’re traveling over the wire. It also seems that the various groups appear to compete with one another, even going so far as to block the domains used by competing groups’ downloaders once they’ve infected the machine.
So not long ago, another interesting mass downloader development seemed to drop into my work queue. These downloaders pull down bitmap images — not just executables with a different file extension, but real graphics files — then convert the color data into binary code, which transforms the data in the picture file into a small executable phisher installer. Continue reading →
We know most adware companies are shameless in their pursuit of revenue, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen anything as bizarre (or hilariously bold) as the sales pitch from a relative neophyte to the world of adware, which calls itself SnappyAds. On its homepage, SnappyAds posits the hypothetical glee of two business-suited online ad men counting the thousands of dollars they’ve allegedly earned from their allegedly lucrative venture.
Behind the SnappyAds facade, however, is an adware client we (and a few other AV companies) call SearchPan. The installer for the adware client application is hosted on SnappyAds’ webserver, and it modifies both the IE and Firefox browsers to add code which redirects searches through a number of search engines of dubious distinction.
There really isn’t a whole lot to discuss technically about SnappyAds. It really only came to our attention because the Threat Research group as a whole just couldn’t stop laughing when we all saw the pictures of the guy leaning back in his cushy leather chair counting out his Benjamins. They do arrive, as SnappyAds claims, by the ton. So make sure you invest in a forklift before you sign up as a SnappyAds affiliate. You’ll need one to move your palette-loads of cash.