Meta Flags Malicious Android and iOS Apps Influence 1 Million Facebook Users

Meta Flags Malicious Android and iOS Apps Influence 1 Million Facebook Users

Facebook is contacting nearly a million users of its platform about their account details potentially being hacked by malicious Android or iOS apps.

In a blog post on October 7, Facebook’s parent company Meta said its researchers had discovered 400 malicious Android and iOS apps over the past year that were designed to steal usernames and passwords of Facebook users and to compromise their accounts. The poisoned apps were uploaded to Google and Apple app stores and disguised as legitimate games, VPN services, photo apps, and other utilities.

When users download a malicious app and try to use it, they will be asked to enter their Facebook username and password. Meta said that if a user enters their credentials, the attackers will gain full access to the individual’s account, private information and their friends on the social media platform.

“This is the highly competitive space, And while our industry peers work to detect and remove malware, some of these apps evade detection and turn them over to legitimate app stores,” David Agranovich, Director of Threat Disruption Meta, and Ryan Victory, Malware Detection and Detection Engineer, wrote in a blog post.

Meta reported the apps to Apple and Google, and the researchers noted, “We are also alerting people who may have inadvertently compromised their account themselves by downloading these apps and sharing their credentials and helping them secure their account.”

Posted as legitimate apps

Many of the iOS and Android apps that Meta has discovered on the Apple and Google mobile stores allegedly have some fun or useful functionality, such as music players and cartoon photo editors. A large number (42%) pretended to be photo editors, and some claimed that they could turn a user’s photo into a caricature.

About 15% of these tools are claimed to be commercial tools, such as VPNs that have claimed to help users access blocked content and websites or to increase their internet browsing speeds; 14% of these were phone utilities, such as flashlight apps that allegedly helped brighten a phone’s flashlight.

Mobile games made up about 11% of the 400 or so malicious apps discovered by Meta researchers. Meta said the fake reviews may have helped boost the reputation of some of these apps and helped mask potential negative reviews for these apps.

Facebook did not say how many of the 400 apps were running on Android. But Apple said that of the 400 apps mentioned in the Meta blog, 45 were on iOS – leaving 355 for Android.

A Google spokesperson says that all of the apps identified in the Meta report are no longer available on Google Play. “Users are also protected by Google Play Protect, which blocks these apps on Android,” he said.

Apple has also confirmed that the apps have been removed from the App Store.

Ongoing issue

The issue of malicious apps finding their way into Google and Apple’s official mobile stores is by no means new. Both companies have been dealing with the issue for years and have implemented several mechanisms to check for third-party apps published in their stores.

However, malware authors have constantly managed to infiltrate their apps anyway. One technique commonly used by attackers to bypass Google and Apple testing processes was to separate the program’s malicious capabilities from benign processes and Using a dropper to install malicious code Later once the test is complete.

Over the years, many vendors have reported discovering malicious apps disguised as legitimate software on both stores. One of the most recent examples is BitDefender’s discovery of 35 malicious apps On Google Play that together have been downloaded by about 2 million. The protection vendor found that some apps, which were designed to serve ads, renamed themselves after installation to make detection and removal more difficult.

In July, Dr. Webb reported his discovery and reported to Google Nearly 30 Adware Trojans on Google Play With over 9.8 million downloads.

While attackers tend to target Play more heavily, there have been many similar cases on the Apple App Store as well. In September, the Human Security organization’s Satori research team reported a massive advertising operation that included dozens of malicious apps on Google Play and at least Nine in the Apple App Store. Together, the apps have been downloaded around 13 million times since at least 2019.

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