A recently discovered piece of malware is using Google Android as a launch pad to turn Windows PCs into listening devices.
According to Kaspersky Lab, on Jan. 22 the firm’s researchers found applications on Google Play that turns Windows’ microphone feature into a listening bug when users plug an infected phone into their Windows PC. Both of the apps – which have since been removed by Google – claimed to be able to help users clean their phones to improve performance.
However, the apps only pretend to be useful. Once downloaded, they showed the phone’s running services and with a message declaring “cleanup done!” From there, the malware downloads three files from a specified URL and places them in the root directory of the SD card. When the smartphone is connected to the PC in the USB drive emulation mode, the system automatically executes the file svchosts.exe, which is actually Backdoor.MSIL.Ssucl.a.
“Overall, Backdoor.MSIL.Ssucl.a is not a particularly sophisticated piece of malware,” blogged Victor Chebyshev of Kaspersky Lab. “[It’s] only feature of interest is that it includes the freely-distributed library NAUDIO (naudio.codeplex.com).”
While saving autorun.inf and a PE file to a flash drive is one of the most unsophisticated ways of spreading malware, doing it using a smartphone and waiting for the device to be connected to a PC is brand new attack vector, he wrote. The attack is mitigated by the fact that in the current versions of Microsoft Windows the AutoRun feature is disabled by default. However, not all users have migrated to modern operating systems, Chebyshev noted.
“Thus, a typical attack victim is the owner of an inexpensive Android smartphone who connects his or her smartphone to a PC from time to time, for example, to change the music files on the device,” he wrote. “Judging by the sales statistics for Android smartphones, I would say that such people are quite numerous. For the attack to be more successful, it only lacks a broader distribution scheme.”