New Delhi, September 15: A new mobile banking ‘Trojan’ virus – SOVA – that can stealthily encrypt an Android phone for ransom and is difficult to uninstall is targeting Indian customers, the country’s federal cybersecurity agency said in its latest advisory. The virus has advanced to its fifth version after it was first detected in Indian cyberspace in July, he said.

“It has been reported to CERT-In that Indian banking customers are being targeted by a new type of mobile banking malware campaign using the SOVA Android Trojan. The first version of this malware has appeared for sale in the markets underground in September 2021 with the ability to harvest usernames and passwords via key logging, cookie theft and adding fake overlays to a range of applications,” the notice reads.

SOVA, he said, previously focused on countries like the United States, Russia and Spain, but in July 2022 added several other countries, including India, to its list of targets. . The latest version of this malware, according to the advisory, hides in fake Android apps that appear with the logo of some famous legit apps like Chrome, Amazon, NFT (non-fungible cryptocurrency-related token) platform for trick users into installing them. Twitter will launch the Edit Tweet feature for blue followers on September 21, 2022.

“This malware captures credentials when users log into their online banking apps and access bank accounts. The new version of SOVA appears to target over 200 mobile apps, including banking apps and exchanges/ crypto wallets,” the notice reads.

India’s Computer Emergency Response Team or CERT-In is the federal technology branch to combat cyber attacks and protects the internet space from phishing and hacking attacks and similar online attacks. The agency said the malware is distributed via smishing (phishing SMS) attacks, like most Android banking Trojans.

“Once the fake Android app is installed on the phone, it sends the list of all apps installed on the device to the C2 (command and control server) controlled by the threat actor to get the list of targeted apps.”

“At this point, the C2 sends the malware a list of addresses for each targeted application back to the malware and stores this information in an XML file. These targeted applications are then managed via communications between the malware and the C2,” he said. he declares.

The lethality of the virus can be gauged from the fact that it can collect keystrokes, steal cookies, intercept multi-factor authentication (MFA) tokens, take screenshots and record videos from a webcam and can perform gestures such as tapping the screen, swiping, etc. android accessibility service. It can also add fake overlays to a range of apps and “imitate” more than 200 banking and payment apps in order to scam the Android user.

“It has been discovered that SOVA makers have recently upgraded it to its fifth version since its inception, and this version has the ability to encrypt all data on Android phone and hold it for ransom,” said he declared.

Another key feature of the virus, according to the advisory, is the refactoring of its “protections” module, which aims to protect itself from the various actions of victims. For example, he says, if the user tries to uninstall the malware from the settings or by pressing the icon, SOVA is able to intercept these actions and prevent them by returning to the home screen. and displaying a toast (small popup) displaying “This application is secure”.

These attack campaigns can effectively jeopardize the privacy and security of sensitive customer data and lead to “large scale” attacks and financial fraud, he said. The agency also suggested some countermeasures and best practices that users can implement to protect themselves from the virus.

Users should reduce the risk of downloading potentially harmful apps by limiting their download sources to official app stores, such as your device manufacturer or the operating system’s app store. They should always check app details, number of downloads, user reviews, comments and “ADDITIONAL INFORMATION section”, he said. Apple iPhone 14 Series, Watch Series 8 now available for sale in India; Check the offers here.

It’s also worth checking the app’s permissions and granting only those that have context relevant to the app’s purpose. They should install regular Android updates and patches and not browse untrustworthy websites or follow untrustworthy links and exercise caution when clicking on the link provided in unsolicited emails and SMS .