The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has alerted Nigerians over a newly discovered malware called ‘AbstractEmu’ — which attacks Android devices.
Malware is a generic word used to describe a virus or software designed specially to “disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorised access to a computer system.”
Last month, the commission had raised alerted Nigerians over FluBot — a malware that targets Android devices to steal banking information.
In the statement, the commission warned that AbstractEmu could gain access to smartphones, take complete control of infected smartphones and silently modify device settings while simultaneously taking steps to evade detection.
AbstractEmu, the NCC said, is distributed via Google Play Store and third-party stores such as the Amazon Appstore and the Samsung Galaxy Store, as well as other lesser-known marketplaces like Aptoide and APKPure.
NCC noted that according to the information received from the Nigeria Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT), a total of 19 Android applications that posed as utility apps and system tools like password managers, money managers, app launchers, and data saving apps have been reported to contain the rooting functionality of the malware.
The apps include All Passwords, Anti-ads Browser, Data Saver, Lite Launcher, My Phone, Night Light and Phone Plus, among others.
“According to the report, rooting malware although rare, is very dangerous. By using the rooting process to gain privileged access to the Android operating system, the threat actor can silently grant itself dangerous permissions or install additional malware – steps that would normally require user interaction,” the statement reads.
“Elevated privileges also give the malware access to other apps’ sensitive data, something not possible under normal circumstances.
“The ngCERT advisory also captured the consequences of making their devices susceptible to AbstractEmu attack.
“Once installed, the attack chain is designed to leverage one of five exploits for older Android security flaws that would allow it to gain root permissions. It also takes over the device, installs additional malware, extracts sensitive data, and transmits to a remote attack-controlled server.
“Additionally, the malware can modify the phone settings to give app ability to reset the device password, or lock the device, through device admin; draw over other windows; install other packages; access accessibility services; ignore battery optimisation; monitor notifications; capture screenshots; record device screen; disable Google Play Protect; as well as modify permissions that grant access to contacts, call logs, Short Messaging Service (SMS), Geographic Positioning System (GPS), camera, and microphone.”
The commission reiterated the advisory of ngCERT that users should be wary of installing unknown or unusual apps and look out for different behaviours as they use their phones.
It also advised users to reset phones to factory settings when there is suspicion of unusual behaviours.