Security Experts:

Malicious Version of BatteryBot Pro App Found on Google Play

Security researchers have come across a fake version of the popular BatteryBot Pro application for Android devices. The rogue app is designed to conduct ad fraud, send SMS messages to premium rate numbers, and download additional threats.

BatteryBot is an application that monitors the battery of Android devices. The app, installed between 100,000 and 500,000 from Google Play, displays the battery charge level in the status bar, and additional information such as temperature, time left, health and voltage in the notification area. The Pro version, which costs $2,99, has some additional features.

According to cloud-based security firm Zscaler, cybercriminals have taken the legitimate BatteryBot Pro app and embedded malicious modules into it. One version of the fake application was uploaded to Google Play, but the search giant removed it from its app store as soon as it learned of its existence.

Unlike the legitimate BatteryBot Pro, which only requests minimal permissions at installation, the fake variant requests permission to send SMS messages, access the Internet, access the file system, process outgoing calls, and download files without notification.

During installation, the rogue application requests administrative access to the device, which allows it not only to carry out its malicious activities, but also to be persistent on the device and prevent removal.

Researchers say the fake BatteryBot Pro works just like the legitimate application. However, unlike the genuine app, which doesn’t display any ads, the malicious version is designed to push pop-up advertisements according to instructions received from its command and control (C&C) server.

In addition to displaying ads, the malware also downloads and installs other malicious APKs on the infected device.

While displaying ads can help the cybercriminals make a profit through affiliate advertising networks, the malware uses an even more direct approach for earning its masters money. When users click on the “View Battery Use” button in the fake app, the malware contacts its C&C server and requests short codes, which represent premium rate phone numbers.

Every time the malware sends an SMS to one of these numbers, the victim is charged a certain amount of money, usually much more than what a regular text message would cost because the number is associated with a premium service.

Zscaler says the malware authors appear to be working on a new version of the threat that might include command execution capabilities. Experts have spotted traces of command execution functionality, but it had not been fully implemented.

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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.