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XLoader: A deep insight into the Android malware’s various campaigns

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  • XLoader was first spotted in April 2018 posing as legitimate Facebook or Chrome apps.
  • Researchers note that XLoader has been found to have links with a Chinese hacker group called the Yanbian Gang.

XLoader is a backdoor trojan and Android malware that uses Domain Name System (DNS) spoofing to distribute infected Android apps. The malicious apps collect device owners’ personal information and financial information.

XLoader distributed via DNS domains

  • XLoader was first spotted in April 2018 posing as legitimate Facebook or Chrome apps.
  • These apps were distributed via polluted DNS domains that send notifications to victims’ devices.
  • Once the malicious app is installed on the mobile device, it can hijack the device and gain persistence via device administrator privileges.
  • After which, XLoader can steal device owners’ personal information as well as download additional malware.

This malware campaign was targeting victims in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

XLoader linked to Yanbian hacker group

Researchers noted that the two Android malware families XLoader and FakeSpy have been found to have links with a Chinese hacker group called Yanbian Gang. Researchers who found a connection between the two malware and the Yanbian Gang noted that they initially discovered the connection during a malware campaign that saw XLoader malware disguised as a legitimate app of a major Japanese home delivery service company in June 2018.

Similarities between XLoader and FakeSpy

  • The malicious domains shared by XLoader and FakeSpy were found to be located in China.
  • The C&C servers were similar for both the malware families.
  • Moreover, XLoader and FakeSpy have collectively infected almost 384,748 victims across the globe, with the majority of victims located in Japan and South Korea.

XLoader version 6.0

Researchers detected a new version of the XLoader malware ‘XLoader v 6.0’ that poses as a security app for Android devices and uses a malicious iOS profile to affect iPhone and iPad devices. This variant is distributed via smishing. XLoader version 6.0 abuses Twitter profiles to hide its C&C server. The malware author has made some changes to this XLoader version in line with its new deployment method.

XLoader version 7.0

In April 2019, researchers uncovered ‘XLoader version 7.0’ that poses as a pornography app for Android devices. This variant abuses Instagram and Tumblr profiles to hide its C&C server. XLoader version 7.0 targets South Korean Android users.

This implies that the threat actors behind XLoader are active and constantly making changes to the malware.

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