Gooligan malware roots 1M Android phones in "largest Google account breach to date"

Posted:
in iPhone edited November 2016
A new strain of Android malware dubbed "Gooligan," thought to be "the largest Google account breach to date," is already in active circulation and three-fourths of the Android installed base is vulnerable. Once infected, devices give hackers access to the users' Gmail, Google Photos, Docs, Drive and other Google services accounts.


Source: Check Point Software Technologies


Discovered by Check Point Software Technologies, the "new and alarming malware campaign" was found to have already compromised one million Google accounts, and is currently spreading to 13,000 new users each day.

The Gooligan malware is spread through phishing campaigns or malware installed via third party app stores. Once on the device, it sucks up local data, gains root access and downloads a module that enables it to steal the users's email account and Google's authentication tokens that provide it password-free access to the user's Google Photos, Google Play account, files in Google Docs and Google Drive and G Suite.

Stolen authentication tokens bypass various Google security mechanisms, including two-factor-authentication, by allowing the malware that gains control of them to appear to be the already-logged in, legitimate user. Stolen authentication tokens bypass various Google security mechanisms, including two-factor-authentication, by allowing the malware that gains control of them to appear to be the already-logged in, legitimate user

Check Point reported that 57 percent of those hacked are in Asia, but 19 percent are in America and 9 percent are located in Europe. Devices running Android 4 Jelly Bean or KitKat and Android 5 Lollipop are vulnerable. According to Google's latest data from earlier this month, that amounts to 74 percent of all Android users.

The security firm recommends that users who have been compromised do a clean install of the OS via "flashing," which it says "is a complex process."

Check Point added, "we recommend powering off your device and approaching a certified technician, or your mobile service provider, to request that your device be 're-flashed.'"

The group also noted that it "found traces of the Gooligan malware code in dozens of legitimate-looking apps on third-party Android app stores. These stores are an attractive alternative to Google Play because many of their apps are free, or offer free versions of paid apps."

Beyond third party stores, the Gooligan malware "could also be downloaded by Android users directly by tapping malicious links in phishing attack messages," the security firm noted.

The malware exploits two vulnerabilities that Google has patched, but Check Point noted that "these exploits still plague many devices today because security patches that fix them may not be available for some versions of Android, or the patches were never installed by the user."

The malware is monetized both when it logs into Google Play and posts fake app reviews that raise the reputation of apps, and also when it installs further adware to generate direct revenue. The malware also spoofs device IMEI serial numbers to appear to download apps more than once, inflating the app install count of apps that pay for installs.

Apple has benefitted tremendously from Google's inability to secure Android. Apple's iOS holds a commanding share of premium phone sales worldwide and maintains a strong lead in security sensitive market segments including government and corporate enterprise users. Virtually all of Apple's users are on the latest iOS update and most are frequently patched, making it far harder and less lucrative for malware vendors to exploit old iOS security flaws.
brakkenwatto_cobra
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 45
    OMG.  Quick, trash that Android phone and buy an iPhone,  Do it now, now now!
    sockrolidlolliverSpamSandwichwatto_cobracali
  • Reply 2 of 45
    Ahhhh... Innovation!
    lolliverwatto_cobracali
  • Reply 3 of 45
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    A new strain of Android malware dubbed "Gooligan," thought to be "the largest Google account breach to date," is already in active circulation and three-fourths of the Android installed base is vulnerable. Once infected, devices give hackers access to the users' Gmail, Google Photos, Docs, Drive and other Google services accounts.
    Inaccurate. In truth only around 8% of active Android devices are vulnerable. 92% of the older Android 4 and 5 smartphones are shielded from the exploits via Verify Apps which protects those users who intentionally bypass security settings to sideload apps from unofficial 3rd party sites. (This malware isn't in the Play Store) . If you read Checkpoints comments I believe they themselves pointed that out.

     EDIT: Yes they did.
     "Check Point also notes that Google's "Verify Apps" technology has been updated to deal with apps using vulnerabilities like this. That's significant because, while it doesn't help devices that are already compromised, it roadblocks future installations on 92 percent of active Android devices, even without the need for firmware updates." "So as significant as a million compromised accounts sounds, this is also an example of Google's security strategy for app-based malware working as designed, blocking installations of affected apps across the vast majority of the ecosystem."
    edited November 2016 Solihmmasdasdsingularity
  • Reply 4 of 45
    Is there anyone out there who still wants iMessage for Android? ;-) All Google keys are stolen by the malware... Apple keys would be stolen too...
    ronnlolliverbaconstangwatto_cobracali
  • Reply 5 of 45
    OMG.  Quick, trash that Android phone and buy an iPhone,  Do it now, now now!
    Why? Most don't even have to worry about it. Also if you only go for the premium Androids that would compare to the iPhone, you definitely don't need to worry about it. Also by just staying in the Google Play Store. 

    The people that did get infected would not like the iPhone as they wanted free apps that were paid ones because they went to a third party store to even get infected. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 6 of 45
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,470member
    This is akin to saying that the iPhone is vulnerable to apps with malware if you use Cydia. Typical users aren't likely to go outside Google Play so I don't see this as an issue, not to mention where gatorguy notes that most versions of Android already protect against this very thing. It's really a non story.
    cornchipanantksundaramlightknightsingularity
  • Reply 7 of 45
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,470member

    OMG.  Quick, trash that Android phone and buy an iPhone,  Do it now, now now!
    Why? 
    He's being sarcastic.
  • Reply 8 of 45
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,470member
    Is there anyone out there who still wants iMessage for Android? ;-) All Google keys are stolen by the malware... Apple keys would be stolen too…
    Wouldn't that only be a user and device-specific key, which is easily resolved?
  • Reply 9 of 45
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    Wow.  That's some serious oversharing!
    lolliverwatto_cobracali
  • Reply 10 of 45
    "The largest Google account breach to date."

    Statements like this are sensationalist. There will almost certainly be future Android breaches that make a 1-million account breach seem small by comparison. The headline should say "Android users get lucky this time." /s
    edited November 2016 lolliverbaconstangnetmagemagman1979watto_cobracali
  • Reply 11 of 45
    Sounds like a decent opportunity to make some easy cash by running a small business to re-flash affected devices. Re-flashing is not "complex" at all. Android SDK installed on a supported system, plug device into USB port, run one small command to unlock boot loader, one command to reload android image, and one command to lock boot loader.


  • Reply 12 of 45
    Soli said:
    Is there anyone out there who still wants iMessage for Android? ;-) All Google keys are stolen by the malware... Apple keys would be stolen too…
    Wouldn't that only be a user and device-specific key, which is easily resolved?
    How easily? How would Apple know that that Android user's keys are stolen and would revoke them? All that user's encrypted communication would go busted, photos leaked etc... And the blame would be on iMessage after such a leakage...
    lollivernetmage
  • Reply 13 of 45
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,408member
    This just shows how much harder it is to protect against "attackers", when they're wearing those masks...
    edited November 2016
  • Reply 14 of 45
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,470member
    Soli said:
    Is there anyone out there who still wants iMessage for Android? ;-) All Google keys are stolen by the malware... Apple keys would be stolen too…
    Wouldn't that only be a user and device-specific key, which is easily resolved?
    How easily? How would Apple know that that Android user's keys are stolen and would revoke them? All that user's encrypted communication would go busted, photos leaked etc... And the blame would be on iMessage after such a leakage...
    As previously stated, it's per device, not user. They certainly can't pop that onto another device and if they're already on your current device you have actual account issues to worry about, not just a device key.
  • Reply 15 of 45
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,368member
    Going to the store to buy an Android .... they get all the love! 
    lolliverwatto_cobracali
  • Reply 16 of 45
    And the "toxic hellstew" that is Android security continues on.

    One of these days soon we're going to see the Android version of the recent hijacking of IoT devices (like webcams) to conduct a DDoS attack. Although who knows if it will be another DDoS attack or something else.

    Maybe then Google will man up and take security seriously.
    edited November 2016 ronnlolliverbaconstangmagman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 45
    Soli said:
    This is akin to saying that the iPhone is vulnerable to apps with malware if you use Cydia. Typical users aren't likely to go outside Google Play so I don't see this as an issue, not to mention where gatorguy notes that most versions of Android already protect against this very thing. It's really a non story.
    The difference is that Apple doesn't condone Cydia, which is tantamount to jail breaking. While Google doesn't vouch for other app stores, they and their fans have claimed for years that Apple's Walled Garden was WRONG, and that Android was superior because it was "more open." And now you want to praise the virtues of Google's Walled Garden. What do I make of that apparent cognitive dissonance? Is this another case of "it's only wrong when Apple does it"?
    ericthehalfbeeronnlolliverbaconstangasdasdcharlesgresnetmageicoco3magman1979ai46
  • Reply 18 of 45
    Dear Editor

    the image resembles an iPhone.  i hardly know of an android device which has a home button which resembles an iPhone.  I understand you've stated Android device near the home button, but visual images have the highest impact.  Appreciate if you could change that it resemble an android device. 
    hmmSpamSandwichai46watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 45
    Soli said:
    This is akin to saying that the iPhone is vulnerable to apps with malware if you use Cydia. Typical users aren't likely to go outside Google Play so I don't see this as an issue, not to mention where gatorguy notes that most versions of Android already protect against this very thing. It's really a non story.
    The difference is that Apple doesn't condone Cydia, which is tantamount to jail breaking. While Google doesn't vouch for other app stores, they and their fans have claimed for years that Apple's Walled Garden was WRONG, and that Android was superior because it was "more open." And now you want to praise the virtues of Google's Walled Garden. What do I make of that apparent cognitive dissonance? Is this another case of "it's only wrong when Apple does it"?

    And this is the hypocrisy of the Android user. If I had a nickel for every post I read over the years about Android giving you the ability to choose any App store you wanted.......
    ronnlolliverbaconstangGeorgeBMacnetmageicoco3ai46magman1979watto_cobratmay
  • Reply 20 of 45
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,470member
    Soli said:
    This is akin to saying that the iPhone is vulnerable to apps with malware if you use Cydia. Typical users aren't likely to go outside Google Play so I don't see this as an issue, not to mention where gatorguy notes that most versions of Android already protect against this very thing. It's really a non story.
    The difference is that Apple doesn't condone Cydia, which is tantamount to jail breaking. While Google doesn't vouch for other app stores, they and their fans have claimed for years that Apple's Walled Garden was WRONG, and that Android was superior because it was "more open." And now you want to praise the virtues of Google's Walled Garden. What do I make of that apparent cognitive dissonance? Is this another case of "it's only wrong when Apple does it"?
    Those that argue both sides are hypocrites, and those pro-Android/anti-Apple people really don't come onto this forum anymore using that argument. But even if they did, the fact still remains that typical Android users aren't going outside of Google Play, hence it's not an issue for the typical Android user.
    singularity
Sign In or Register to comment.