After fading away for several months, the newly prevalent Godfather Android malware is back with a vengeance, targeting more than 400 international financial firms. The trojan generates fake login pages to harvest customer login details, and that’s just the start. Godfather also mimics Google’s pre-installed security tools in an attempt to gain full control over devices.
Godfather was discovered by malware analytics firm Group I-B, with the first samples appearing in June 2021. It is believed this malware grew out of another popular bank hacker known as Anubis. Godfather circulated at low levels until June 2022, when it vanished. It appears the operators were simply preparing a new version. Godfather was back with a vengeance in September of this year, targeting a whopping 400 financial companies: 215 international banks, 94 cryptocurrency wallets, and 110 crypto exchanges.
When installed on a device, Godfather will generate fake login pages, which it can use to get usernames and passwords. Many banks and crypto firms have additional login requirements, and that’s where Godfather’s other mechanisms come in handy. After installation, the malware masquerades as a Google Play Protect alert. Thinking this is a legitimate popup from Android’s default security suite, some users will grant the malware accessibility control. At that point, Godfather can record the screen, read SMS, fire off fake notifications, make calls, and more — everything you need to compromise a bank account or crypto vault.
The malware appears to be spreading via decoy apps in the Play Store. Group I-B has not determined who created and profits from Godfather, but it heavily suspects that they are Russian speakers. There’s a kill switch in the malware that checks the OS language setting. If it finds the default language is one of those spoken in former Soviet states (other than Ukrainian), it will shut down instead of stealing data. It’s not exactly a smoking gun, but it’s pretty suspicious.
After evaluating Telegram channels, Group I-B believes that Godfather is an example of Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS). The creators essentially license the malware to third parties, which can deliver them juicy financial details without the hassle of developing the malware and infrastructure. It targets institutions all over the world, including the US (49 sites), Turkey (31), Spain (30), and Canada (22). If you think you’ve been infected, remove accessibility from all installed apps (usually under Settings > Accessibility) and change your important passwords using a different device.
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