Security Now
Security is top-of-mind everywhere, especially right here where Juniper experts share their thoughts on the latest security breakthroughs and product advancements

SpyEye Trojan Targets Android OS

by Juniper Employee on ‎09-22-2011 02:17 PM

Last September, the Juniper Networks Global Threat Center team uncovered the first mobile variant of the notorious ZEUS banking trojan, dubbed as "ZITMO", which was aimed at stealing online banking credentials. This version of mobile trojan targeted RIM BlackBerry devices and devices running the Nokia Symbian operating system. After a few months, a new variant of ZITMO was found targeting Microsoft Windows Mobile OS. It followed a similar approach as its predecessor, but with a difference in the mobile platform that it targeted.


Soon after its detection on Windows Mobile devices, the malware writers released another version of ZITMO that targeted devices running the Google Android OS. This threat was detected in July 2011 and by this time ZITMO had targeted all the major mobile platforms. Following a similar strategy, another prominent Windows Mobile OS banking trojan SpyEye, dubbed as “SPITMO” was detected on BlackBerry and Symbian OS in April 2011. Within a short span this threat resurfaced and has been found targeting the Android mobile operating system. Initial findings on this threat were disclosed by security firm Trusteer.


The SpyEye trojan for mobile intercepts incoming text messages and uploads them to a remote server. In comparison to recently discovered Android malware, SpyEye may be considered less offensive in terms of the data that it collects, but due to its focused task of stealing online banking credentials, it indeed carries a significant threat to the victim. It's distributed from compromised Spanish bank websites where the user is directed to install an Android application aimed at securing their device from SMS interception. Ironically, the application meant to prevent SMS interception acts as a malicious application.


Needless to say, it involves multiple steps before SPITMO can be installed on an Android. However, noticing the sheer determination of malware writers to gain access to the credentials, it's not too far in the future that we can expect mobile users to encounter more sophisticated variants of such mobile trojans.


Please note that Junos Pulse Mobile Security Suite users are already protected against this threat; it’s detected as A.Spitmo.c.


This article offers information on SPITMO’s covert activities on an Android device.


First Step:


The infected bank website provides the installation instructions and the URL from where SPITMO is downloaded. Figure 1 shows the screenshot of installed SPITMO on a victim's Android and the permissions requested by it. Upon installation, it hides itself from the Android dashboard, i.e. no visible icon, and it runs silently in the background. Moreover, it uses the display name “System”, which seems like a legitimate Android system application.




Figure 1: SPITMO installed on Android and permissions requested by it



Second Step:

After installation the user is instructed to dial "325000" to activate the application. The call is intercepted by the application and it shows a hard-coded registration number to the user, which the user must enter on the infected site to complete the installation. This activity is shown in Figure 2, whereas Figure 3 shows the code snippet that performs the abovementioned activity.




Figure 2: User activating SPITMO on Android




Figure 3: Code snippet that performs the above operation


The above two steps summarize the installation of SPITMO and hereafter it runs in the background to intercept incoming text messages. In order to follow along with the background operation of SPITMO on Android, we setup two Android emulators; one is infected with SPITMO and the other emulator is used to send text messages to the infected emulator. Figure 4 shows the text conversation between the two emulators.




Figure 4: Text conversation between two Android emulators.


The following code snippet shows the interception of the incoming text messages by SPITMO. The sender's number along with the text is passed as a parameter to a method called "performAction(, ,)", which uploads the contents of the message to a remote server. The code snippet of “performAction(,,)” method is shown in Figure 6.




Figure 5: Code that intercepts SMS messages




Figure 6: Code that uploads the intercepted SMS messages to a remote server


The SPITMO trojan utilizes four remote servers to ensure that an intercepted SMS message is uploaded to one of the servers; this offers additional robustness to it. Figure 7 shows the URL’s of the remote servers to which SPITMO attempts to upload the SMS messages.




Figure 7: Remote server URL’s hardcoded in "Settings.xml" in the asset folder


At the time of this analysis of SPITMO, all the servers were down. Hence I used "fakedns" script to resolve all the DNS queries to the local machine and launched "netcat" on port 80 to listen to all the incoming connections as shown in Figure 8 and Figure 9.




Figure 8: Fakedns script resolves DNS requests


Figure 9 shows the captured traffic on port 80 that contains the incoming text message along with the sender's and receiver's phone numbers. Surprisingly, SPITMO not only intercepts, but hijacks the incoming text messages. The native SMS application on an infected Android device does not receive any inbound messages. Even though it stays hidden on the Android device, this peculiar behavior could aid in its detection.




Concluding Remarks


SPITMO is not found on the official Android Market and it’s not yet considered to be a widespread threat on Android OS. However, considering the rapid growth in mobile malware, the Juniper Networks Global Threat Center suggests:


  • Practice due diligence before downloading applications.
  • Restrict your download of applications to those only from trusted and reputable sources.
  • Before hitting the “Install” button, pay careful and close attention to the permissions requested by the app you’re downloading and, if the permissions don’t make sense for the type of app being downloaded, don’t download it!
  • Be wary of unusual activity on your mobile device and protect the integrity of your data by installing antivirus and antimalware applications.

And, as mentioned previously, Junos Pulse Mobile Security Suite users are already protected against this threat.




by Cygnis Media on ‎10-10-2012 04:51 AM

I agree. Would you trust a security company that works on assumptions, rather than fact. Silly article really


Cygnis Media

Post a Comment
Be sure to enter a unique name. You can't reuse a name that's already in use.
Be sure to enter a unique email address. You can't reuse an email address that's already in use.
Type the characters you see in the picture above.Type the words you hear.
About the Author
  • Title: Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Branch Solutions Business Unit Area of Responsibility: Driving Juniper business including strategy, revenue/profitability, products and execution for this segment of SLT's overall portfolio, specifically comprehensive solutions for the small to medium size locations of large, distributed enterprises. Alex joined Juniper in February 2008 after more than five years at Extreme Networks, where he served as Chief Operating Officer from mid 2002 through 2006, and the last year as VP and GM of Extreme's high-end switching business and core engineering operations. During his tenure at Extreme Alex led programs which established essential product lifecycle and quality systems, completely refreshed the product portfolio, significantly improved product and service quality and margins, and streamlined the supply chain. Prior to Extreme Alex served as Chief Operating Officer for LCG Wireless (acquired by ADC Telecommunications), SVP Business Operations for ReplayTV, and earlier spent eight years in various executive roles with Octel Communications (acquired by Lucent Technologies) as CIO, SVP Business Operations, and SVP and GM of Enterprise Messaging. Alex holds a bachelors and masters degree in electrical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis.
  • I manage the SRX3K and 1K line of security service gateways. I have spent a decade working with networking devices and in the process have obtained the JNCIE certification.
  • Bill is the Director of Federal Certifications and Policy at Juniper Networks. In this role, Bill focuses on several areas unique to the needs of Federal Government customers, including product certifications, IPv6, and security. Bill came to Juniper Networks in January 2008 after more than 20 years in the IT community working with commercial enterprise customers, service providers, and the US Federal Government. Bill started his career as an engineering officer in the US Air Force after graduating with a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Bill has an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Brad Minnis, CPP is the Senior Director of Corporate Environmental, Health, Safety & Security for Juniper Networks, Inc. based in Sunnyvale, CA, where he is responsible for strategic design, implementation and management of the company’s security, safety, environment, crisis management and business continuity functions. He also leads the company’s efforts in corporate citizenship and sustainability, and manages the Corporation’s government-related security programs. Mr. Minnis has over 30 years experience in the Silicon Valley and has managed EHSS operations for a number of high tech companies, including Juniper Networks, 3Com Corporation, and National Semiconductor Corporation. Mr. Minnis’ specialties include security management, supply chain and product integrity, anti-counterfeit, occupational health and safety and crisis management. In his role as Cyber Incident Response Team Leader for Juniper, Mr. Minnis has managed numerous high impact cyber-related incidents and cross-functional responses. Mr. Minnis served for ten years in the United States Navy and has served in leadership positions the International Security Management Association (ISMA) and ASIS International, serving as Chairman of the San Francisco Chapter in 2003. He has also co-written several publications on software integrity assurance and supply chain security with organizations such as SAFECode. Mr. Minnis is certified as a Protection Professional by the Professional Certification Board of ASIS International and attended the University of Connecticut, where he received two certificates in Environmental, Health and Safety
  • François Prowse is a Senior Systems Engineer for Juniper Networks, based in Brisbane Australia. Francois joined Juniper in 2006 as part of the New Zealand SE team, subsequently relocating to Australia. Prior to Juniper, Francois worked for four years at Alcatel in both operational and architectural roles, being jointly responsible for the construction of New Zealands' largest MPLS core network. Prior to Alcatel, Francois worked at UUnet, focusing on core network expansion in Europe. In all previous roles JUNOS has been the driving factor behind day to day operations, providing him with over 8 years of operational experience. Francois is a Juniper Networks Certified Internet Expert (JNCIE #144) which he obtained prior to joining Juniper Networks.
  • Greg Sidebottom is a Senior Engineering Manager in the Identity and Policy Management business unit at Juniper Networks. Greg has spent the last decade plus conceptualizing, architecting, designing, and leading the implementation of Juniper's SDX and SRC families of policy based service management applications. Previous to this, Greg held positions in the software and networking industries at Siemens, Cognos, Nortel, GTE labs subsidiary MPR Teltech, and the Alberta Research Council. Greg is an author of eight invention disclosures resulting in two patents issued and three pending. Greg holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science for the University of Calgary and an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Computing Science from Simon Fraser University.
  • Jim Kelly, Senior Product Line Manager – CTP Products Juniper Networks. Jim Kelly is the senior product line manager for the CTP products where he is responsible for the CTP product direction, marketing and circuit emulation applications within Juniper Networks. Mr. Kelly has more than 28 years of experience in the networking industry in technical roles, sales, marketing, and product management positions. He started his career in the United States Air Force. He has worked for Wang, Digital Telecom Systems, American Airlines, Network Equipment Technologies, Carrier Access, and Nortel Networks. He started Juniper Networks federal DoD sales in July 2000 and joined Juniper Networks again in October 2005 through the acquisition of Acorn Packet Solutions where he was the director of sales and marketing.
  • Justin Ryburn is a Senior Systems Engineer at Juniper Networks. He holds an MBA and a MS in IT Management from Webster University as well as numerous industry certifications. Justin contributed content for Cyber Forensics (Auerbach Publishing, 2007) and spoke on BGP Flowspec at NANOG63. Prior to joining Juniper, Justin held various operations, engineering, and sales engineering positions over his 15-year career with companies such Savvis, Nortel, XO, and Charter.
  • Mark Belk is the National Government Chief Architect at Juniper Networks
  • 20 years technology experience in sales, product management and marketing. 15 in security. Living the good guys versus bad guys fight every day.
  • I am currently a Sr. Product Marketing Manager specializing in Juniper's Security Portfolio in the Service Provider industry. I am an experienced senior technical leader, technical marketing engineer, solutions architect, and product marketing manager with over 20 years of Internet and Enterprise industry experience developing solutions from scratch often in relation with business units and technology groups, my projects ranged from product, solution, and technology development to corporate technology strategies. I have strong analytical skills and I am able to crunch and articulate complex technology to a variety of audience knowledge levels. I possess a deep hands-on technology and business knowledge of Service Provider and Enterprise architectures with deployment hands-on skills. I also bring a unique perspective of open source philosophy, including but not limited to open innovation, software development methodologies, open source monetization and business models, and licensing and compliance in software integration. I am a strategic leader with proved ability to empower a team to improve their product, themselves, their team, and our company’s market position.
  • 30 Years in Book Publishing, 20 years in Technical Book Publishing, including Apple Developer Press, Adobe Press, Nokia Developer Books, Palm Books, and since 2001, almost 10 years as consulting editor/editor in chief for Juniper Networks Book. Joined the company and started the Day One book line and in 2011, the new This Week book line.
  • Rajoo Nagar is a senior manager in product marketing at Juniper Networks. She is responsible for product marketing for Juniper's security solutions. Rajoo is a published author, her book “Telecom Service Rollouts” was published by McGraw Hill Professional.
  • I'm a Product Line Manager in the Security Business Unit working on all things intrusion prevention-related. I've been in the security field since 1994 working on diverse projects such as developing HP's public-key infrastructure (PKI), building the first protocol anomaly-based IDS at Recourse Technologies (acquired by Symantec), integrating vulnerability management and IDS at VM vendor nCircle and managing IPS products at Cisco and Juniper.
  • Jonathan Looney is a Senior Staff Courseware Developer at Juniper Networks. Before joining Juniper, he performed network engineering for a large enterprise, a regional ISP, and an application service provider (ASP). The holder of several industry certifications, he enjoys the freedom his job at Juniper gives him to both continually learn and also to share his knowledge with others through a wide range of media.
  • Scott is the Director of Product Marketing for Mobile Security at Juniper Networks. In his 20+ years in high tech, Scott has worked on Mobile and Endpoint Security, Network Security, IPS, Managed Services, Network Infrastructure, Co-location, Microprocessor Architecture, Unix Servers and Network Adapters. He has held leadership roles at Check Point, McAfee, Symantec, Exodus Communications, Cable & Wireless, Savvis, and HP.
  • Sherry Ryan is IT Vice President and CISO of Juniper Networks. Previously, Sherry held similar positions at Blue Shield of California, Hewlett-Packard, Safeway and Levi Strauss where she established and led their information security programs. Sherry holds the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification from ISACA and the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification from ISC2. She is a member of the High Tech Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA) and the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA). Sherry has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Redlands, and earned her MBA from the College of Notre Dame.
About Security Now

Discussing a wide range of topics impacting enterprises and
data center security.

Subscribe RSS Icon

Our Bloggers

Ritesh Agrawal
Software Engineering

Profile | Subscribe

Michael Callahan
Vice President

Profile | Subscribe

Scott Emo
Product Marketing

Profile | Subscribe

Rajoo Nagar
Senior Manager
Product Marketing

Profile | Subscribe

Bill Shelton
Director Field Sales

Profile | Subscribe

Ashutosh Thakur
Product Line Manager

Profile | Subscribe

Copyright© 1999-2015 Juniper Networks, Inc. All rights reserved.