Researchers from CSE ZLAB malware Analysis Laboratory analyzed a set of samples of the Pallas malware family used by the Dark Caracal APT in its hacking operations.
The malware researchers from ZLab analyzed a collection of samples related to a new APT tracked as Dark Caracal, which was discovered by Electronic Frontier Foundation in collaboration with Lookout Mobile Security.
Dark Caracal has been active at least since 2012, but only recently it was identified as a powerful threat actor in the cyber arena.
The first analysis of the APT linked it to Lebanese General Directorate of General Security.
Dark Caracal is behind a number of stealth hacking campaigns that in the last six years, aimed to steal text messages, call logs, and files from journalists, military staff, corporations, and other targets in 21 countries worldwide.
One of their most powerful campaigns started in the first months of last year, using a series of trojanized Android applications to steal sensitive data from the victim’s mobile device. The trojan injected in these applications is known in the threat landscape with the name Pallas.
Threat actors use the “repackaging” technique to generate its samples, they start from a legitimate application and inject the malicious code before rebuilding the apk.
The target applications belongs to specific categories, such as social chat app (Whatsapp, Telegram, Primo), secure chat app (Signal, Threema), or software related to secure navigation (Orbot, Psiphon).
The attackers used social engineering techniques to trick victims into installing the malware. Attackers use SMS, a Facebook message or a Facebook post, which invites the victim to download a new version of the popular app through from a specific URL
All the trojanized app are hosted at the same URL.
Figure 1 – Dark Caracal Repository – Malicious site
This malware is able to collect a large amount of data and to send it to a C&C through an encrypted URL that is decrypted at runtime. The capabilities of the trojan are:
Read calls log
Retrieve account and contacts information
Gather all stored media and send them to C2C
Download and install other malicious software
Display a phishing window in order to try to steal credentials
Retrieve the list of all devices connected to the same network
Further details are included in the complete report published by CSE.
You can download the full ZLAB Malware Analysis Report at the following URL:
Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer.
Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US.
Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines.
Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.