Android ‘StrandHogg 2.0’ flaw lets malware assume identity of any app

Researchers have publicized a critical security flaw in Android which could be used by attackers to “assume the ” of legitimate apps in order to carry out on-device phishing attacks.

Discovered by Norwegian company Promon, the bug is called ‘StrandHogg 2.0’, the name denoting that this is an “evil twin” follow up to a similar flaw of the same name made public by the company last year.

Strandhogg is, apparently, the old Norse word for the Viking tactic of sailing up to coastal towns and plundering them, which isn’t a bad description of what the bug might be capable of if it were used in a real attack.

Promon doesn’t delve into the inner workings of the flaw in huge detail but malware exploiting it would be able to overlay a malicious version of any over the real app, capturing all logins as they are entered by an oblivious user.

Users tap on the icon of the correct app and think they are logging into their email, say, when in fact they are really logging into an interface controlled by an attacker.

Attackers need to know which apps they are targeting in advance but can phish multiple apps in one attack without the need for rooting, admin privileges or special permissions, Promon said.

Promon claims the code used in the attack would be obfuscated enough that it could slip past Google Play’s security layers as well as on-device security apps, making it hard to detect.

Because this attack is so hard to spot, and can steal almost anything on a device (GPS data, images, logins, SMS messages and emails, phone logs, etc.) there’s a chance it might be interesting to nation state hackers as well as criminals out for profit.

Promon predicts that attackers will look to utilise both StrandHogg and StrandHogg 2.0 together because both vulnerabilities are uniquely positioned to attack devices in different ways.

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