Clipper Malware Slips Into Google Play

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A piece of Android malware capable of hijacking users’ crypto-currency transactions has slipped into Google Play, ESET security researchers have discovered.

Detected as Android/Clipper.C, the malware masquerades as the legitimate service MetaMask. Its main purpose is to steal the victim’s credentials and private keys to take over their Ethereum wallets. It also hijacks funds by replacing Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet addresses on the clipboard. 

Malware capable of performing such attacks is relatively new, but is already an established category, especially on desktop computers. 

Referred to as “clippers,” these threats rely on the fact that addresses of online crypto-currency wallets are long strings of characters that user’s normally copy and paste using the clipboard. Whenr the victim attempts to perform a transaction, the malware intercepts copied crypto-wallet addresses and replaces them with the attacker’s. 

While on desktop PCs running Windows such malware first emerged in 2017, it arrived on Android only in 2018, and has only been found in shady Android app stores, until working its way into Google’s official app store. 

The recently discovered clipper appeared in the Google Play store on February 1, 2019 and was removed immediately after ESET reported it to the Google Play security team.

The intended victims of this malware are users of the mobile version of MetaMask, a service designed to run Ethereum decentralized apps in a browser, without having to run a full Ethereum node. 

At the moment, the service only offers only add-ons for desktop browsers such as Chrome and Firefox, but no mobile application, ESET points out.

For some cybercriminals, this appeared as an opportunity to create malicious applications and trick users into believing they are legitimate programs for the service. 

According to ESET, the clipper is only one of the malicious software impersonating MetaMask that was found in Google Play. Previously discovered malware, however, was phishing for sensitive information, attempting to take over the victims’ crypto-currency wallets. 

To stay protected, users are advised to always check the official website of the app developer or service provider for a link to the official app, to make sure they download and install legitimate software. 

Users should also double-check every step in all transactions that involve valuables, regardless of whether sensitive information or money, especially when using the clipboard (in which case, they should make sure the pasted content is the same as the copied one. 

Keeping the Android device updated at all time and installing only software from the Google Play store are also advised. 

Related: ‘TimpDoor’ Malware Turns Android Devices into Proxies

Related: Android Apps Carrying Windows Malware Yanked From Google Play

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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