Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Mobile & Wireless

Google Play Checks Bypassed by Hacking Team Android Backdoor

An Android backdoor developed by the Italian surveillance software maker Hacking Team is capable of bypassing the Google Play screening process. The threat is designed to allow the company’s customers to install spyware on smartphones, Trend Micro reports.

An Android backdoor developed by the Italian surveillance software maker Hacking Team is capable of bypassing the Google Play screening process. The threat is designed to allow the company’s customers to install spyware on smartphones, Trend Micro reports.

Researchers continue to analyze the 400GB of data leaked as a result of a breach suffered by Hacking Team. So far, experts have identified several of the resources offered by the company to its customers, including zero-day exploits, an UEFI rootkit, and tools designed to facilitate attacks against non-jailbroken iOS devices.

One of the tools developed by Hacking Team for targeting Android devices was disguised as a news application called BeNews and uploaded to Google Play. The name BeNews, which belongs to a defunct news website, was likely used to make the app look more legitimate.

Google removed the application from the Play store shortly after the Hacking Team breach came to light, but the app had already been downloaded 50 times.

The backdoor, which Trend Micro detects as ANDROIDOS_HTBENEWS.A, made it past the Google Play filtering process because it doesn’t contain any exploit code and it requests only three permissions during installation.

However, once victims start using the fake news app, the malware uses a technique called dynamic loading to download and execute additional code from a server. The backdoor works on Android versions 2.2 through 4.4.4 and it exploits a local privilege escalation vulnerability (CVE-2014-3153) in Google’s mobile operating system to achieve its goal.

Trend Micro has pointed out that the same vulnerability was exploited by TowelRoot, a piece of Android malware capable of breaking the device’s protection mechanisms, and opening the door for other malware that can be leveraged to gain remote access.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Based on an analysis of source code and documents containing instructions on how to use the backdoor, experts believe Hacking Team has been providing the app to customers as a lure for getting the company’s Android spyware on a target’s device.

Hacking Team initially said the leaked information allows anyone to deploy the company’s software, including terrorists and extortionists. However, the firm later noted that the exposed systems are now obsolete because the leaked information makes them easy to detect.

The spyware maker has pointed out that important elements of source code have not been accessed by the attacker, and now the company is preparing to launch a completely new version of Remote Control System, its flagship surveillance product.

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

SecurityWeek’s Threat Detection and Incident Response Summit brings together security practitioners from around the world to share war stories on breaches, APT attacks and threat intelligence.


Securityweek’s CISO Forum will address issues and challenges that are top of mind for today’s security leaders and what the future looks like as chief defenders of the enterprise.


Expert Insights

Related Content

Mobile & Wireless

Infonetics Research has shared excerpts from its Mobile Device Security Client Software market size and forecasts report, which tracks enterprise and consumer security client...

Mobile & Wireless

Apple rolled out iOS 16.3 and macOS Ventura 13.2 to cover serious security vulnerabilities.

Mobile & Wireless

Critical security flaws expose Samsung’s Exynos modems to “Internet-to-baseband remote code execution” attacks with no user interaction. Project Zero says an attacker only needs...

Mobile & Wireless

Technical details published for an Arm Mali GPU flaw leading to arbitrary kernel code execution and root on Pixel 6.

Mobile & Wireless

Two vulnerabilities in Samsung’s Galaxy Store that could be exploited to install applications or execute JavaScript code by launching a web page.

Mobile & Wireless

The February 2023 security updates for Android patch 40 vulnerabilities, including multiple high-severity escalation of privilege bugs.

Mobile & Wireless

Apple’s iOS 12.5.7 update patches CVE-2022-42856, an actively exploited vulnerability, in old iPhones and iPads.


A digital ad fraud scheme dubbed "VastFlux" spoofed over 1,700 apps and peaked at 12 billion ad requests per day before being shut down.