Fake Security App Found Abuses Japanese Payment System

Authored by SangRyol Ryu and Yukihiro Okutomi 

McAfee’s Mobile Research team recently analyzed new malware targeting mobile payment users in Japan. The malware which was distributed on the Google Play store pretends to be a legitimate mobile security app, but it is in fact a payment fraud malware stealing passwords and abusing reverse proxy targeting the mobile payment services. McAfee researchers notified Google of the malicious apps, スマホ安心セキュリティ, or ‘Smartphone Anshin Security, package name com.z.cloud.px.app and com.z.px.appx. The applications are no longer available on Google Play. Google Play Protect has also taken steps to protect users by disabling the apps and providing a warning. McAfee Mobile Security products detect this threat as Android/ProxySpy.  

How Do Victims Install This Malware? 

The malware actor continues to publish malicious apps on the Google Play Store with various developer accounts. According to the information posted on Twitter by Yusuke Osumi, Security Researcher at Yahoo! Japan, the attacker sends SMS messages from overseas with a Google Play link to lure users to install the malware. To attract more users, the message entices users to update security software. 

A SMS message from France (from Twitter post by Yusuke)

A SMS message from France (from Twitter post by Yusuke)

malware on Google play

Malware on Google Play 

The Mobile Research team also found that the malware actor uses Google Drive to distribute the malware. In contrast to installing an application after downloading an APK file, Google Drive allows users to install APK files without leaving any footprint and makes the installation process simpler. Once the user clicks the link, there are only a few more touches required to run the application. Only three clicks are enough if users have previously allowed the installation of unknown apps on Google Drive. 

Following notification from McAfee researchers, Google has removed known Google Drive files associated with the malware hashes listed in this blog post. 


What does this malware look like?

When a user installs and launches this malware, it asks for the Service password. Cleverly, the malware shows incorrect password messages to collect the more precise passwords. Of course, it does not matter whether the password is correct or not. It is a way of getting the Service password. The Service password is used for the payment service which provides easy online payments. The user can start this payment service by setting a Service password. The charge will be paid along with the mobile phone bill. After the password activity, the malware shows fake mobile security screen. Interestingly, the layout of the activity is similar to our old McAfee Mobile Security. All buttons look genuine, but these are all fake. 

Interface comparison.
Interface comparison.

How does this malware work?

There is a native library named ‘libmyapp.so’ loaded during the app execution written in Golang. The library, when loaded, tries to connect to the C2 server using a Web Socket. Web Application Messaging Protocol (WAMP) is used to communicate and process Remote Procedure Calls (RPC). When the connection is made, the malware sends out network information along with the phone number. Then, it registers the client’s procedure commands described in the table below. The web socket connection is kept alive and takes the corresponding action when the command is received from the server like an Agent. And the socket is used to send the Service password out to the attacker when the user enters the Service password on the activity. 

RPC Function name  Description 
connect_to  Create reverse proxy and connect to remote server 
disconnect  Disconnect the reverse proxy 
get_status  Send the reverse proxy status 
get_info  Send line number, connection type, operator, and so on 
toggle_wifi  Set the Wi-Fi ON/OFF 
show_battery_opt  Show dialog to exclude battery optimization for background work 

Registered RPC functions description 

Initial Hello packet contains personal information
Initial Hello packet contains personal information
Sending out The Network password
Sending out The Network password

To make a fraudulent purchase by using leaked information, the attacker needs to use the user’s network. The RPC command ‘toggle_wifi’ can switch the connection state to Wi-Fi or cellular network, and ‘connect_to’ will provide a reverse proxy to the attacker. A reverse proxy can allow connecting the host behind a NAT (Network Address Translation) or a firewall. Via the proxy, the attacker can send purchase requests via the user’s network. 

Network and command flow diagram
Network and command flow diagram


It is an interesting point that the malware uses a reverse proxy to steal the user’s network and implement an Agent service with WAMP. McAfee Mobile Research Team will continue to find this kind of threat and protect our customers from mobile threats. It is recommended to be more careful when entering a password or confidential information into untrusted applications. 

IoCs (Indicators of Compromise) 


SHA256  Package Name  Distribution  
5d29dd12faaafd40300752c584ee3c072d6fc9a7a98a357a145701aaa85950dd  com.z.cloud.px.app  Google Play 
e133be729128ed6764471ee7d7c36f2ccb70edf789286cc3a834e689432fc9b0  com.z.cloud.px.app  Other 
e7948392903e4c8762771f12e2d6693bf3e2e091a0fc88e91b177a58614fef02  com.z.px.appx  Google Play 
3971309ce4a3cfb3cdbf8abde19d46586f6e4d5fc9f54c562428b0e0428325ad  com.z.cloud.px.app2  Other 
2ec2fb9e20b99f60a30aaa630b393d8277949c34043ebe994dd0ffc7176904a4  com.jg.rc.papp  Google Drive 
af0d2e5e2994a3edd87f6d0b9b9a85fb1c41d33edfd552fcc64b43c713cdd956  com.de.rc.seee  Google Drive 


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