I recently got hold of an Android phone that was behaving rather bizarrely. It would go off, and turn on again, on its own. Contacts would disappear and network settings changed frequently. It was as if there was a ghost in the phone.
A standard virus scan detected nothing. I navigated to the Settings and under Manage Applications I found something called ‘System’ which I had not seen on any Android device. This was in addition to the ‘Android System’, which is normally there. I asked security expert and ethical hacker Abir Atarthy to have a look. What he had to say left me shaken.
“This malware is called TigerBot. It is very dangerous,” he said. “It can record your phone calls, send SMS on its own and even allow those who put it there to track your movement constantly.”
The malware cleverly hides its existence by not showing any icon on the home screen. It can disguise itself by using legitimate app names from legitimate vendors such as Google and Adobe. It is usually called com.google.android.lifestyle.apk. So if you have any running applications by this name be sure to delete it.
Another Trojan named Soundminer, which attacks Android smartphones, can sniff out and harvest target data such as a credit card numbers and then send it to an attacker. It does all this by just recording your keystrokes on your touch phone.
If you are thinking Blackberry is a safe choice, think again. Don’t leave your BlackBerry lying around. It just takes a few seconds to install PhoneSnoop and the attacker has complete control of your phone.
What is a Trojan? A Trojan is a self-contained, malicious program that stays inside harmless software or data in such a way that it can control and cause damage to your files in a computer or any mobile device.
“After extensive research our team has identified 25 different types of Trojans and each of them attacks in a different way,” said Atarthy, who is co-founder of the Indian School of Ethical Hacking (www.isoeh.com) .
There are several different types of Trojans, among which Remote-Access Trojans (RAT) are dangerous. They provide a “backdoor” into the system through which an unscrupulous hacker can remotely control your system, even running other malicious code if he or she chooses. They can use these hijacked systems, called zombies, to launch attacks on others.
Hackers first create a Trojan and then they hide it in innocent looking applications such as game software. The application is sent via email or is found in infected downloaded files. When you run the application the Trojan silently installs in the background. Sometimes a Trojan may be hidden inside an image. When you click on the image, the Trojan is activated. These RATs use specialised techniques to evade antivirus; so beware. RAT’s can also disable your antivirus or firewall programs.
General symptoms of being attacked by a Trojan in a computer are when your CD-ROM tray opens and closes by itself, antivirus is disabled or doesn’t run properly, or Ctrl+Alt+Del stops working. Your computer shuts down or powers up by itself or your taskbars disappear. Apart from RAT, there are other types of Trojans that can attack your PC.
With online shopping and e-banking becoming a craze, you must be on your guard. A Credit Card Trojan steals your credit card number and billing details. These Trojans may trick you into visiting a fake e-banking website and enter your personal information. Trojan servers automatically transmit these data to remote hackers via FTP or email.
You must take some basic precautions to protect yourself. Install a good antivirus in your mobile and don’t install applications from unknown vendors. Turn off your Bluetooth when you are not using it. If you must use it ensure that the device is hidden to others. You will find the settings for this in the Bluetooth setup.
You must also regularly update your operating system in your computer, phone and tablet. Sometimes, anti-virus software is not enough. Get a malware fighter for your PC from www.malware bytes.org or download Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool 4.14. Both are free.
Send in your computer- related problems to firstname.lastname@example.org with bits&bytes as the subject line