Android Alien Trojan Threatens Mobile Banking Users

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With the extensive use of mobile banking in the digital age, the chance of downloading and using an infected app is greater than ever. A banking trojan, also known as a trojan virus, can infect phones, tablets, and laptops with ease. Once you use the trojan-infested device, you may suffer from loss of data or theft of information and currency. It is vital to remove the threat before it can seriously hamper your life and lead to more serious consequences. Here is what you need to know about this latest threat.

What Is a Trojan Virus?

Much like the mythical trojan horse, the trojan virus is malicious software or code that piggybacks on a seemingly same program. The primary purpose of the virus is to mislead the user that downloads it. For banking purposes, this app may appear as a connection to a bank account, but the malware attached may forward passwords and usernames to a third party. Other activities of a trojan can also include creating backdoors into the software, corrupting the app’s code, or taking control of the device. 

Banking trojan viruses or standard trojan viruses usually spread through infected files or software. These may include software updates and new programs and apps on mobile devices.

How the Trojan Virus Affects Mobile Banking

Malicious programs are not new to devices, but certain software targeting banking systems is with the introduction of Cerberus and Alien within the last few years. The Alien trojan virus works with the previously used Cerberus banking trojan. It steals information and funds from banking app users. With its introduction, Alien has the capacity to force fraudulent transactions directly from the user’s mobile device. 

Alien and other trojan viruses infect devices through SMS, email messages, and Google Play downloads. The attached virus grants the cybercriminal access once the user grants privileges to the app. Phishing webpages can be used to steal the victim’s banking credentials and capture the passcode for their device. Additionally, keylogging can be used to steal other sensitive credentials and passwords. 

Alien is sold as a service to cybercriminals who pay for it in order to obtain access to a builder to generate a customized Android application package. In some cases, cybercriminals bypass Google Play’s defenses and upload malware to the Google Play site directly under cover of a legitimate app. The trojan asks for accessibility privileges when an infected app is installed. While these privileges are often used by legitimate apps, they can harness a great deal of power, including reading the screen of other apps, controlling user input by simulating taps, and installing dangerous programs like TeamViewer, a remote-control app that can provide the cybercriminal with full access to all features on the mobile device. 

With the help of TeamViewer, hackers can access banking apps and perform fraudulent transactions. Cybercriminals can take control without the user being aware of anything. Alien has several functions that provide access to location, code stealing, forwarding calls, use of other apps such as email and social media and many more. This complete access can lead to identity theft, which can leave long-lasting devastation in its wake. 

Precautions to Take Against Banking Trojans

With a banking app, it is important to know what you are downloading and to ensure the source is from the bank you use. 

Cybercriminals can and will take everything they can when the virus is on your phone or tablet. Some precautions that can help guard against banking trojans include:

  1. Know the source – Knowing the source of the application helps to prevent installing malware on a device. Never open emails from unknown sources or click on links in text messages.
  2. Do not answer texts or emails from domains that do not match the bank – Cyber Criminals often start with phishing attempts to grab usernames and passwords through text or email. Some may use a link to infect the device as a starting point.
  3. Delete or deactivate programs such as TeamViewer – Remote access programs in mobile devices provide others with full control of the phone or tablet. By deactivating or deleting these, it is not as easy to become infected by a trojan virus.
  4. Use two-factor authentication – By using a password and a secondary authentication method such as a passcode, it is more difficult to hack into an account.
  5. Use a VPN – A virtual private network can provide greater security.

Also, be wary of downloading new and exciting apps from Google Play or the App Store, which are sometimes the initial point of infection. 

Protecting Yourself from Alien

By understanding how Alien works, what it targets and what to avoid, you can protect your devices from these infections. Following the precaution methods discussed above can protect you from a banking trojan or other trojan viruses. 

Contact an administrator if you believe your device has been infected by a banking trojan. Take steps to protect yourself from similar threats in the future.

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