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Google notifies Android users targeted by Hermit government-grade spyware – TechCrunch




Lookout security researchers recently linked a previously non-attributed Android mobile spyware (called Hermit) to the Italian software house RCS Lab. Currently, Google threat researchers are reviewing many of Lookout’s findings and are informing Android users whose devices have been compromised by spyware.

According to Lookout and Google, Hermit is a commercial spyware known to be used by the government, with victims in Kazakhstan and Italy. According to Lookout, spyware can also be seen deployed in northern Syria. Spyware uses various modules to download from the command and control server as needed to collect call logs, record surrounding voices, redirect calls, photos from victims’ devices, messages, emails, etc. And collect the exact location of the device. Lookout said in its analysis that Hermit, which runs on all Android versions, also attempts to root infected Android devices, allowing spyware deeper access to victims’ data.

According to Lookout, targeted victims are sent a malicious link in a text message to download and install a malicious app that impersonates a legitimate branded phone company or messaging app from outside the app store. Will be directed to.

According to a new blog post released Thursday and shared with TechCrunch before the release, Google found evidence that government officials controlling spyware worked with targeted Internet providers to disconnect mobile data connections. I said I did. Pretending to regain connectivity, it tempts the target to trick you into downloading a phone company-themed app.

Google also analyzed a sample of hermit spyware targeting the iPhone, but said the lookout wasn’t previously available. According to Google’s findings, the Hermit iOS app, which can exploit the Apple Enterprise Developer Certificate to sideload spyware to victims’ devices from outside the app store, is packed with six different exploits, two of which have been so far. There were no vulnerabilities or zero. -The number of days at the time of discovery. One of the zero-day vulnerabilities was known to Apple to be actively exploited before it was fixed.

According to both companies, the Android and iOS versions of Hermit Spyware were not found in the app store. Google said it “notified Android users of infected devices” and updated Google Play Protect, an app security scanner built into Android, to block the app from running. Google also said it unplugged the Spyware’s Firebase account that Spyware used to communicate with the server.

Google didn’t reveal the number of Android users notifying.

Apple spokesman Trevor Kincaid told TechCrunch that Apple has revoked all known accounts and certificates associated with this spyware campaign.

Hermit is the latest government-grade spyware known to be deployed by state agencies. Similar mobile spyware developed by hacking companies such as NSO Group and Candiru is linked to the surveillance of journalists, activists and human rights advocates, although it is unknown who has been targeted by the government using Hermit. ..

When asked for comment, the RCS Lab provided a non-attributed statement. It is partially written as: Product sales or implementation will only take place after formal approval from the competent authority. Our products are delivered and installed on the premises of authorized customers. RCS Lab personnel are not publicly available and do not participate in activities carried out by related customers. “

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