Amazon Gift Card malware spreading via SMS

Intel Security’s McAfee Labs recently published its Hacking the Human OS whitepaper detailing a number of ways in which cybercriminals rely on a victim’s trust in a particular brand or public authority to hand over information or allow themselves to become infected with malicious code. This week, the Labs team uncovered a new scam leveraging user trust in the Amazon brand.

Amazon is one of the biggest online shopping markets and very familiar to all of us. Recently, Intel’s McAfee Labs team found new Android malware spreading via SMS (Short Message Service) message mascaraed as an Amazon Rewards application. The SMS message will be sent from your trusted contacts such as your family or friends who already have infected devices. Have you received an SMS message (as below) offering Amazon Gift Card from your family or friends by any chance?


The SMS message uses a shortened URL and leads user to a malicious website to download malware with the filename “AmazonRewards.apk”. Then the website attempts to make user rush to download the application by reducing the remaining number of Free Gift Cards – a sneaky tactic!

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After installation, “Amazon Rewards” is registered on the Menu.


The malware shows a survey website after it runs. It’s a good guess that the user can get Amazon Gift Card by answering the survey, but that’s not the case here. The survey and application offered by the malware are the legitimate advertisement and legitimate applications from Google Play store. The malware author will get their “reward” money from you when you answer the survey or install the application.

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In addition, the malware sends SMS messages like the one above to all listed contacts, including your family and friends. As a result, the malware can spread widely and rapidly, and the malware author will get more money with unauthorized manner.

This SMS spreading method via contacts on infected devices will make wide spreading in the mobile world as we confirmed before in China. So please do not install application of un-trusted source, especially if it arrives in the form of an unexpected SMS message. Think before you click – if it’s too good to be true, it usually is! Your awareness will help slow the spreading of such malware.

McAfee Mobile Security detects this Android threat as Android/Gazon and alerts mobile users if it is present, while protecting them from any data loss. For more information about McAfee Mobile Security, visit


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