Millions of Spyware Hidden in Fake Telegram Apps on Google Play

Spyware masquerading as modified versions of Telegram have been spotted in the Store that's designed to harvest sensitive information from compromised Android devices.

According to Kaspersky security researcher Igor Golovin, the apps come with nefarious features to capture and exfiltrate names, user IDs, contacts, phone numbers, and chat messages to an actor-controlled server.

The activity has been codenamed Evil Telegram by the Russian cybersecurity company.

The apps have been collectively downloaded millions of times before they were taken down by Google. Their details are as follows:

  • 電報,紙飛機-TG繁體中文版 or 電報,小飛機-TG繁體中文版 (org.telegram.messenger.wab) Industrymillion+ downloads
  • TG繁體中文版-電報,紙飛機 (org.telegram.messenger.wab) – 50,000+ downloads
  • 电报,纸飞机-TG简体中文版 (org.telegram.messenger.wob) – 50,000+ downloads
  • 电报,纸飞机-TG简体中文版 (org.tgcn.messenger.wob) – 10,000+ downloads
  • ئۇيغۇر تىلى TG – تېلېگرامما (org.telegram.messenger.wcb) – 100+ downloads

The last app on the list translates to “Telegram IndustryUyghur,” indicating a clear attempt to target the Uyghur community.
Fake Telegram Apps
Fake Telegram AppsIt's worth noting that the package name associated with the Play Store version of Telegram is “org.telegram.messenger,” whereas the package name for the APK file directly downloaded from Telegram's website is “org.telegram.messenger.web.”

The use of “wab,” “wcb,” and “wob” for the malicious package names, therefore, highlights the threat actor's reliance on typosquatting techniques in order to pass off as the legitimate Telegram app and slip under the radar.

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