Recently, Google identified a new family of Android malware dubbed Tizi spyware by using Google Play Protect. Tizi infected targeted devices in African countries, specifically in Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania.
Tizi is a fully-featured Android backdoor with rooting capabilities that installs spyware to steal sensitive data from popular social media applications, including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, LinkedIn, and Telegram.
Once installed on the target device, the malicious app gains root access to install spyware, then the malicious code contacts the command-and-control servers by sending an SMS text message with the GPS coordinates of the infected device to a specific number.Experts discovered that the Tizi malware is installed by the backdoor that exploits known vulnerabilities, including CVE-2012-4220, CVE-2013-2596, CVE-2013-2597, CVE-2013-2595, CVE-2013-2094, CVE-2013-6282, CVE-2014-3153, CVE-2015-3636, and CVE-2015-1805.
If none of the above flaws could be used to install the Tizi spyware, the backdoor will attempt to perform some actions get higher privileges, for example asking the user to grant them.
“If a Tizi app is unable to take control of a device because the vulnerabilities it tries to use are are all patched, it will still attempt to perform some actions through the high level of permissions it asks the user to grant to it, mainly around reading and sending SMS messages and monitoring, redirecting, and preventing outgoing phone calls.” continues Google.
The Tizi spyware is able to communicate with the command-and-control servers over regular HTTPS, and also through the MQTT messaging protocol using a custom server.
The Tizi spyware contains various capabilities common to commercial spyware:
Google has identified 1,300 Android devices infected by Tizi and removed it, it also shared suggestions to reduce the chance of users’ devices being infected.