Once again, Google Play has been caught taking off its cybersecurity trousers after a once-legal Android screen and audio recorder app was updated to include malicious microphone snooping code.
Tens of thousands of people may have downloaded the software before ESET researchers discovered the hidden malware and alerted Google, which removed the app from its online store.
The application in question, iRecorder Screen Recorder, was first published in 2021. He hadn’t even shown any signs of cheating on Google Play for nearly a year, until an August 2022 update added a secret remote control backdoor.
This backdoor code was based on AhMyth, a piece of ‘not intended for malicious use’ spyware hosted on GitHub previously found in the Play Store app.
AhMyth’s implementation of the updated Android app is called AhRat by ESET. The software reportedly obnoxiously recorded snippets of audio from the infected device’s microphone. AhRat could also be instructed to extract files with “extensions denoting web pages, images, audio, video, document files, and file formats used to compress multiple files,” it said. ESET’s Lucas Stefanko, author of the 2019 report on the last two cases, said: On the Play Store he found AhMyth.
AhRat lacks many of the features of its parent malware, which Stefanko said could be a lightweight variant designed to better hide itself within legitimate applications. is shown. “These features seem to fit the already defined app permission model, which grants access to files on the device and allows audio recording,” Stefanko explained. .
“Once the malicious app was installed, it acted as a standard app without any special additional permission requests that could reveal its malicious intent,” Stefanko added.
ESET said it had not found any other actual locations of AhMyth, and that the app and all other items created by the mysterious developer were removed from the Google Play store after being reported. It is not clear exactly how long this malicious version of the recording app has been available on Google Play, or exactly how many people have been affected. ESET only announced that the software has surpassed 50,000 downloads on Google’s souk.
Stefanko said in his report that the recording app is still available in some alternative unofficial Android app markets, and that the developer has released several other Android tools, but those He pointed out that the tool does not contain malicious code.
“It is possible that the app developer intended to build a user base before compromising Android devices with the update, or that a malicious attacker introduced this change to the app. , there is no evidence for any of these hypotheses,” Stefanko noted.
More like Google Play Infection
We’ve been down this malware-ridden road many times before on Google Play, but malware that slipped through the cracks has already been found on Google Play (or at least its parent code has been found). This time it’s especially bad, given the fact that . As an extension, the AhMyth indicator could be considered included in Google’s scanning system.
Images on your device aren’t great for Google’s security.
In 2017, Google’s on-device anti-malware platform, Play Protect, received the lowest score in our malware detection capabilities test compared to third-party Android malware detection platforms. It’s been a while since then, but in the latest version of the report with Play Protect, Play Protect has moved up a few places. But we’re not quite there yet, so make sure your Android device has multiple layers of protection. Or maybe you just avoid apps from unknown developers.
We reached out to Google asking how they managed to miss a malicious update for nearly a year, but have yet to hear back.
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