Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

ABTV

1/13/2020
10:00 AM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
50%
50%

Despite Google's Efforts, Bread Isn't Toast

The authors of the Bread malware have proven themselves to be unrelenting in their efforts to avoid being first discovered by and then dumped from Google's Play Store.

The Bread malware for Android is also called Joker. But no matter the name, its authors have proven themselves to be unrelenting in their efforts to avoid being first discovered by and then dumped from Google's Play Store.

Alec Guertin and Vadim Kotov, of the Android Security & Privacy Team, blogged recently about the extended conflict between the two parties that has been going on since 2017.

Bread/Joker began with one specific fraud method in mind (SMS billing) and then changed to toll fraud. SMS fraud gets a victim to pay for unwanted products or services by messaging to a specific number via SMS.

Bread changed its method of fraud after Google introduced new policies that restricted use of the SEND_SMS permission by an app.

Toll fraud connects to malicious payment pages through a device's WAP connection. The payment is then automatically charged to a device's phone bill.

Google notes the underlying problem that can be exploited by the threat actors when it explains in the blog that "Both of the billing methods provide device verification, but not user verification. The carrier can determine that the request originates from the user's device, but does not require any interaction from the user that cannot be automated. Malware authors use injected clicks, custom HTML parsers and SMS receivers to automate the billing process without requiring any interaction from the user."

The malware authors employed many differing programming techniques to try and sneak the malware past the defenses of the Play store. Not only that, as soon as one version was removed they tried to send a new and slightly different version of the malware.

Google says with some exasperation that, "At peak times of activity, we have seen up to 23 different apps from this family submitted to Play in one day. At other times, Bread appears to abandon hope of making a variant successful and we see a gap of a week or longer before the next variant. This family showcases the amount of resources that malware authors now have to expend."

Google found the authors tried "versioning" to a great extent, an abuse tactic that is unique to app stores. They saw that some apps started with clean versions, in an attempt to grow user bases and build the developer accounts' reputations. The user is unaware of the potential for fraud in the clean version, since it does not happen.

At some point, the malicious is code introduced through an update. Google found that some of the early "clean" versions would contain varying levels of signals that the updates will include malicious code at a later point.

Google's effort against Bread have stopped 1,700 apps from being downloaded by users according to their figures.

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Manchester United Suffers Cyberattack
Dark Reading Staff 11/23/2020
As 'Anywhere Work' Evolves, Security Will Be Key Challenge
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  11/23/2020
Cloud Security Startup Lightspin Emerges From Stealth
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  11/24/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-20934
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in the Linux kernel before 5.2.6. On NUMA systems, the Linux fair scheduler has a use-after-free in show_numa_stats() because NUMA fault statistics are inappropriately freed, aka CID-16d51a590a8c.
CVE-2020-29368
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in __split_huge_pmd in mm/huge_memory.c in the Linux kernel before 5.7.5. The copy-on-write implementation can grant unintended write access because of a race condition in a THP mapcount check, aka CID-c444eb564fb1.
CVE-2020-29369
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in mm/mmap.c in the Linux kernel before 5.7.11. There is a race condition between certain expand functions (expand_downwards and expand_upwards) and page-table free operations from an munmap call, aka CID-246c320a8cfe.
CVE-2020-29370
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in kmem_cache_alloc_bulk in mm/slub.c in the Linux kernel before 5.5.11. The slowpath lacks the required TID increment, aka CID-fd4d9c7d0c71.
CVE-2020-29371
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in romfs_dev_read in fs/romfs/storage.c in the Linux kernel before 5.8.4. Uninitialized memory leaks to userspace, aka CID-bcf85fcedfdd.