Home Cyber Security Stealth Backdoor “Android/Xamalicious” Actively Infecting Units

Stealth Backdoor “Android/Xamalicious” Actively Infecting Units

Stealth Backdoor “Android/Xamalicious” Actively Infecting Units


Authored by Fernando Ruiz 

McAfee Cellular Analysis Staff recognized an Android backdoor applied with Xamarin, an open-source framework that permits constructing Android and iOS apps with .NET and C#. Dubbed Android/Xamalicious it tries to achieve accessibility privileges with social engineering after which it communicates with the command-and-control server to judge whether or not or to not obtain a second-stage payload that’s dynamically injected as an meeting DLL at runtime stage to take full management of the system and probably carry out fraudulent actions reminiscent of clicking on adverts, putting in apps amongst different actions financially motivated with out consumer consent.

The second stage payload can take full management of the contaminated system because of the highly effective accessibility companies that had been already granted in the course of the first stage which additionally comprises capabilities to self-update the primary APK which signifies that it has the potential to carry out any kind of exercise like a spyware and adware or banking trojan with out consumer interplay. Nonetheless, we recognized a hyperlink between Xamalicious and the ad-fraud app “Money Magnet” which routinely clicks adverts, installs apps, and different actions to fraudulently generate income whereas customers that put in it could earn factors which are imagined to be redeemable as a retail present card. Which means the builders behind these threats are financially motivated and drive ad-fraud subsequently this is likely to be one of many fundamental payloads of Xamalicious.

The utilization of the Xamarin framework allowed malware authors to remain lively and with out detection for a very long time, making the most of the construct course of for APK recordsdata that labored as a packer to cover the malicious code. As well as, malware authors additionally applied completely different obfuscation methods and customized encryption to exfiltrate knowledge and talk with the command-and-control server. 

We’ve recognized about 25 completely different malicious apps that carry this menace. Some variants have been distributed on Google Play since mid-2020. The apps recognized on this report had been proactively eliminated by Google from Google Play forward of our reporting. McAfee is a member of the App Protection Alliance and an lively accomplice within the malware mitigation program, which goals to rapidly discover Probably Dangerous Functions (PHAs) and cease them earlier than they ever make it onto Google Play. Android customers are protected by Google Play Defend, which may warn customers of recognized malicious apps on Android gadgets. McAfee Cellular Safety detects this menace as Android/Xamalicious.  

Based mostly on the variety of installations these apps might have compromised no less than 327,000 gadgets from Google Play plus the installations coming from third-party markets that regularly produce new infections based mostly on the detection telemetry of McAfee purchasers all over the world. This menace stays very lively. 


Determine 1. “Rely Simple Calorie Calculator” was out there on Google Play on August 2022 and carries Android/Xamalicious 

Android/Xamalicious trojans are apps associated to well being, video games, horoscope, and productiveness. Most of those apps are nonetheless out there for obtain in third-party marketplaces.  

Beforehand we detected malware abusing Xamarin framework such because the open-sourced AndroSpy and forked variations of it, however Xamalicious is applied otherwise. Technical particulars about Xamarin structure are properly documented and element how .NET code is interpreted by Android utilizing Mono. 

Acquiring Accessibility Companies

Let’s use the app “Numerology: Private horoscope & Quantity predictions” for instance. As soon as began it instantly requests the sufferer to allow accessibility companies for “appropriate work” and gives instructions to activate this permission:  


Determine 2. Tricking customers into granting accessibility companies permission 

Customers have to manually activate the accessibility companies after a number of OS warnings reminiscent of the next on the accessibility choices: 

Determine 3. Accessibility companies configuration immediate highlights the dangers of this permission. 

The place is the malicious code? 

This isn’t the normal Java code or native ELF Android software, the malware module was written initially in .NET and compiled right into a dynamic hyperlink library (DLL). Then it’s LZ4 compressed, and it is likely to be embedded right into a BLOB file, or instantly out there within the /assemblies listing on the APK construction. This code is loaded then by a local library (ELF) or by the DEX file at runtime stage. In easy phrases, which means that in some samples the reversing of the DLL assemblies is easy whereas in others it requires further steps to unpack them. 

The malicious code is normally out there in two completely different meeting recordsdata within the /assemblies listing on the apk. Often, file names are core.dll and a <package-specific>.dll.

Some malware variants has obfuscated the DLL assemblies to keep away from evaluation and reversing of the malicious code whereas others preserve the unique code out there.  


Determine 4. Core.dll and GoogleService.dll include malicious code. 

Communication with the command-and-control server

As soon as accessibility permissions are granted the malware initiates communication with the malicious server to dynamically load a second-stage payload.  

Determine 5. App execution and communication with the malicious server 

Gather Gadget Info 

Android/Xamalicious collects a number of system knowledge together with the record of put in purposes obtained by way of system instructions to find out if the contaminated sufferer is an efficient goal for the second stage payload. The malware can gather location, provider, and community info amongst system rooting standing, adb connectivity configuration, as an illustration, if the system is related by way of ADB or is rooted, the C2 is not going to present a second-stage payload DLL for obtain. 

Methodology/Command  Description 
DevInfo  {Hardware} and system info that features: 

  • Android Id 
  • Model, CPU, Mannequin, Fingerprint, Serial 
  • OS Model, launch, SDK 
  • Language 
  • Developer Choice standing 
  • Language 
  • SIM Info (operator, state, community kind, and so on) 
  • Firmware, firmware model 
GeoInfo  Location of the system based mostly on IP handle, the malware contacts companies reminiscent of api.myip.com to confirm the system location and ISP knowledge. 

  • ISP Identify 
  • Group 
  • Companies 

FraudScore: Self-protection to determine if the system is just not an actual consumer 

EmuInfo  It lists all adbProperties that in an actual system are round 640 properties. This record is encoded as a string param in URL encoded format. 

This knowledge could also be used to determinate if the affected consumer is an actual system or emulator because it comprises params reminiscent of: 

  • CPU 
  • Reminiscence  
  • Sensors 
  • USB Configuration 
  • ADB Standing 
RootInfo  After making an attempt to determine if the system is rooted or not with a number of methods the output is consolidated on this command 
Packages  It makes use of the system instructions “pm record packages -s” and “pm record packages -3” to record system and put in apps on the system. 
Accessibility  It gives the standing if accessibility companies permissions are granted or not 
GetURL  This command solely gives the Android Id and it’s a request for the second-stage payload. The C2 evaluates the offered consumer request and returns a standing and an encrypted meeting DLL. 

Knowledge Encryption in JWT 

To evade evaluation and detection, malware authors encrypted all communication and knowledge transmitted between the C2 and the contaminated system, not solely protected by HTTPS, it’s encrypted as a JSON Internet Encryption (JWE) token utilizing RSA-OAEP with a 128CBC-HS256 algorithm nonetheless the RSA key values utilized by the Xamalicious are hardcoded within the decompiled malicious DLL so decryption of transmitted info is feasible if C2 infrastructure is obtainable in the course of the evaluation. 

Within the Ship() operate Android/Xamalicious first prepares the obtained object, normally a JSON construction calling the operate encrypt() which creates the JWT utilizing a hardcoded RSA key. So the information is exfiltrated absolutely encrypted to the malware host pointing to the trail  “/Updater” by way of HTTP POST technique. 

Then it waits for the C2 response and passes it to the decrypt() operate which has a hardcoded RSA personal key to correctly decrypt the obtained command which could include a second stage payload for the “getURL” command. 

Encrypt Methodology: 

Determine 6. Encrypt operate with hardcoded RSA Key values as XML string 

The decryption technique can be hardcoded into malware which allowed the analysis group to intercept and decrypt the communication from the C2 utilizing the RSA key values offered as XML string it’s attainable to construct a certificates with the parameters to decrypt the JWE tokens content material. 

C2 analysis

Collected knowledge is transmitted to the C&C to find out if the system is a correct goal to obtain a second-stage payload. The self-protection mechanism of the malware authors goes past conventional emulation detection and nation code operator limitations as a result of on this case, the command-and-control server is not going to ship the second stage payload if the system is rooted or related as ADB by way of USB or doesn’t have a SIM card amongst a number of different setting validations. 

DLL Customized Encryption 

With the getURL command, the contaminated consumer requests the malicious payload, if the C&C Server determines that the system is “Okay” to obtain the malicious library it can encrypt a DLL with Superior encryption customary (AES) in Cipher block chaining (CBC) utilizing a customized key for the consumer that requested it based mostly on the system id and different parameters defined beneath to decrypt the code because it’s a symmetric encryption technique, the identical key works for encryption and decryption of the payload. 

Delivers the Payload in JWT 

The encrypted DLL is inserted as a part of the HTTP response within the encrypted JSON Internet Token “JWT”. Then the consumer will obtain the token, decrypt it, after which decrypt the ‘url’ parm with AES CBC and a customized key.  

The AES key used to decrypt the meeting is exclusive per contaminated system and its string of 32 chars of size comprises appended the system ID, model, mannequin, and a hardcoded padding of “1” as much as 32 chars of size. 

For example, if the system ID is 0123456ABCDEF010 and the affected system is a Pixel 5, then the AES key’s: “0123456ABCDEF010googlePixel 5111” 

Which means the DLL has a number of layers of encryption. 

  1. It’s a HTTPS protected.
  2. It’s encrypted as a JWE Token utilizing RSA-OAEP with a 128CBC-HS256 algorithm.
  3. URL parameter that comprises the DLL is encrypted with AES and encoded as base64 

All these efforts are associated to hiding the payload and making an attempt to remain beneath the radar the place this menace had relative success since some variants may need been lively years in the past with out AV detections. 

DLL Injected 

Xamalicious will identify this DLL “cache.bin” and retailer it within the native system to lastly dynamically load it utilizing the Meeting.Load technique. 

Determine 7. Loading of second stage payload utilizing Meeting.Load technique. 

As soon as the second stage payload has been loaded the system may be absolutely compromised as a result of as soon as accessibility permissions are granted, it will possibly obverse and work together with any exercise opening a backdoor to any kind of malicious exercise. 

Throughout the evaluation, the downloaded second stage payload contained a DLL with the category “MegaSDKXE” which was obfuscated and incomplete in all probability as a result of the C2 didn’t obtain the anticipated params to supply the whole malicious second stage that is likely to be restricted to a particular provider, language, app put in, location, time zone or unknown circumstances of the affected system, nonetheless, we will guarantee that it is a high-risk backdoor that leaves the chance to dynamically execute any command on the affected system not restricted to spying, impersonation or as a financially motivated malware. 

Money Magnet Advert-Fraud and Xamalicious

One of many Xamalicious samples detected by McAfee Cellular generic signatures was “LetterLink” (com.regaliusgames.llinkgame) which was out there on Google Play on the finish of 2020, with a guide icon. It was poorly described as a hidden model of “Money Magnet”: An app that performs ad-fraud with automated clicker exercise, apps downloads, and different duties that result in monetization for internet online affiliate marketing. This software affords customers factors which are imagined to be redeemable by retail present playing cards or cryptocurrency.

Determine 8a. LetterLink login web page after operating the app for the primary time.

Determine 8b. LetterLink settlement for Money Magnet

Initially revealed in 2019 on Google Play, “Money Magnet” (com.uicashmagnet) was described as a passive earnings software providing customers to earn as much as $30 USD per thirty days operating automated adverts. Because it was eliminated by Google the authors then infiltrated LetterLink and extra lately “Dots: One Line Connector” (com.orlovst.dots) that are hidden variations of the identical ad-fraud scheme.

Determine 9. LetterLink Icon that hides Money Magnet

“LetterLink” performs a number of Xamalicious actions because it comprises the “core.dll” library, it connects to the identical C2 server, and it makes use of the identical hardcoded personal RSA certificates to construct the JWE encrypted tokens which give a non-repudiation proof that the builders of Money Magnet are behind Xamalicious.

Determine 10. Money Magnet infiltrated the app as a Recreation, out there till the tip of 2023

“Dots: One Line Connector” app is just not a sport, the screenshot revealed by Google Play doesn’t correspond to the applying conduct as a result of as soon as it’s began it simply asks for authentication credentials with none brand or reference to Money Magnet. “Dots” doesn’t include the identical DLLs as its predecessor, nonetheless the communication with the C2 is comparable utilizing the identical RSA key parameters. We reported this app to Google they usually promptly eliminated it from Google Play.

Affected Customers 

Based mostly on our telemetry we noticed that extra affected customers are within the American continent with probably the most exercise within the USA, Brazil, and Argentina. In Europe, purchasers additionally reported the an infection, particularly within the UK, Spain, and Germany. 

Determine 11. McAfee detections Android/Xamalicious all over the world 


Android purposes written in non-java code with frameworks reminiscent of Flutter, react native and Xamarin can present an extra layer of obfuscation to malware authors that deliberately decide these instruments to keep away from detection and attempt to keep beneath the radar of safety distributors and preserve their presence on apps markets. 

Keep away from utilizing apps that require accessibility companies until there’s a real want to be used. If a brand new app tries to persuade you to activate accessibility companies claiming that it’s required with out a actual and affordable cause and requesting to disregard the operative system warning, then it’s a pink flag. 

The second stage payload may take management of the system as a result of accessibility permissions are granted so another permission or motion can then be carried out by the malware if these directions are offered within the injected code. 

As a result of it’s troublesome for customers to actively take care of all these threats, we strongly advocate that customers set up safety software program on their gadgets and all the time preserve updated. Through the use of McAfee Cellular Safety merchandise, customers can additional safeguard their gadgets and mitigate the dangers linked with these sorts of malware, offering a safer and safer expertise. 

Android/Xamalicious Samples Distributed on Google Play: 

Bundle Identify  App Identify  Installs 
com.anomenforyou.essentialhoroscope  Important Horoscope for Android       100,000  
com.littleray.skineditorforpeminecraft  3D Pores and skin Editor for PE Minecraft       100,000  
com.vyblystudio.dotslinkpuzzles  Brand Maker Professional       100,000  
com.autoclickrepeater.free  Auto Click on Repeater          10,000  
com.lakhinstudio.counteasycaloriecalculator  Rely Simple Calorie Calculator          10,000  
com.muranogames.easyworkoutsathome  Sound Quantity Extender            5,000  
com.regaliusgames.llinkgame  LetterLink            1,000  
com.browgames.stepkeepereasymeter  Step Keeper: Simple Pedometer                500  
com.shvetsStudio.trackYourSleep  Monitor Your Sleep                500  
com.devapps.soundvolumebooster  Sound Quantity Booster                100  
com.Osinko.HoroscopeTaro  Astrological Navigator: Each day Horoscope & Tarot                100  
com.Potap64.universalcalculator  Common Calculator                100  

Indicators of Compromise 

Hash PackageName
7149acb072fe3dcf4dcc6524be68bd76a9a2896e125ff2dddefb32a4357f47f6 com.android.accessibility.service
a5de2dc4e6005e75450a0df0ea83816996092261f7dac30b5cf909bf6daaced0 com.android.accessibility.service
22803693c21ee17667d764dd226177160bfc2a5d315e66dc355b7366b01df89b com.android.callllogbacup
efbb63f9fa17802f3f9b3a0f4236df268787e3d8b7d2409d1584d316dabc0cf9 com.android.dreammusic
e801844333031b7fd4bd7bb56d9fb095f0d89eb89d5a3cc594a4bed24f837351 com.android.statementsandservices
5fffb10487e718634924552b46e717bbcbb6a4f9b1fed02483a6517f9acd2f61 com.android.ui.clock
81a9a6c86b5343a7170ae5abd15f9d2370c8282a4ed54d8d28a3e1ab7c8ae88e com.android.ui.clock
9c646516dd189cab1b6ced59bf98ade42e19c56fc075e42b85d597449bc9708b com.android.model.shared
dfdca848aecb3439b8c93fd83f1fd4036fc671e3a2dcae9875b4648fd26f1d63 com.anomenforyou.essentialhoroscope
e7ffcf1db4fb13b5cb1e9939b3a966c4a5a894f7b1c1978ce6235886776c961e com.autoclickrepeater.free
8927ff14529f03cbb2ebf617c298f291c2d69be44a8efa4e0406dea16e53e6f9 com.autoclickrepeater.free
117fded1dc51eff3788f1a3ec2b941058ce32760acf61a35152be6307f6e2052 com.browgames.stepkeepereasymeter
28a4ae5c699a7d96e963ca5ceec304aa9c4e55bc661e16c194bdba9a8ad847b7 com.devapps.soundvolumebooster
b0b9a8e9ec3d0857b70464617c09ffffce55671b227a9fdbb178be3dbfebe8ed com.kolomia.mineskineditor
899b0f186c20fdbfe445b4722f4741a5481cd3cbcb44e107b8e01367cccfdda3 com.lakhinstudio.counteasycaloriecalculator
e52b65fdcb77ed4f5989a69d57f1f53ead58af43fa4623021a12bc11cebe29ce com.lakhinstudio.counteasycaloriecalculator
e694f9f7289677adaf2c2e93ba0ac24ae38ab9879a34b86c613dd3c60a56992d com.littleray.skineditorforpeminecraft
19ffe895b0d1be65847e01d0e3064805732c2867ce485dfccc604432faadc443 com.muranogames.easyworkoutsathome
6a3455ff881338e9337a75c9f2857c33814b7eb4060c06c72839b641b347ed36 com.Osinko.HoroscopeTaro
e6668c32b04d48209d5c71ea96cb45a9641e87fb075c8a7697a0ae28929913a6 com.Potap64.universalcalculator
6953ba04233f5cf15ab538ae191a66cb36e9e0753fcaeeb388e3c03260a64483 com.regaliusgames.llinkgame
01c56911c7843098777ec375bb5b0029379b0457a9675f149f339b7db823e996 com.shvetsStudio.trackYourSleep
3201785a7de8e37e5d12e8499377cfa3a5b0fead6667e6d9079d8e99304ce815 com.turovskyi.magicofnumbers
acb5de2ed2c064e46f8d42ee82feabe380364a6ef0fbfeb73cf01ffc5e0ded6b com.Ushak.NPHOROSCOPENUMBER
9b4dc1e80a4f4c798d0d87a52f52e28700b5b38b38a532994f70830f24f867ba com.Ushak.NPHOROSCOPENUMBER
1bfc02c985478b21c6713311ca9108f6c432052ea568458c8bd7582f0a825a48 com.vyblystudio.dotslinkpuzzles

Introducing McAfee+

Id theft safety and privateness in your digital life



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here