Roaming Mantis Mobile Threat Returns

  • By Patrick Ryan
  • Jul 29, 2022

The Roaming Mantis mobile campaign has returned to no fanfare at all. The threat connects several new forms of attempts at digital compromise targeting smartphone customers in France. The threat returns several months after initially zeroing in on web-connected devices used by consumers in European nations.

How Many Mobile Devices Were Compromised?

Initial estimates reveal a minimum of 70,000 Android devices were compromised as a component of the active malware operation. Sekoia disclosed the information in a recent report.

How Does the Attack Work?

The threat focuses on attack chains, including the aforementioned threat, Roaming Mantis, that deploy financial trojans, often referred to as the XLoader or MoqHao. The threat campaign can also redirect smartphone users to landing pages where their login credentials, such as usernames and passwords, are harvested. The landing pages that gather the credentials appear similar to the login page used to access iCloud services.

XLoader, also known as Wroba, is a remote access trojan or RAT for short, employed on Android smartphone devices. This threat steals information through backdoors, spreading through smartphone text messages from one Android to the next.

The threat begins with phishing text messages or smishing, short for SMS phishing, in which targets are tempted with messages with a package delivery theme. However, the message actually contains harmful links that trigger the download of a malicious APK file.

The attack's domains are created through dynamic DNS for the initial stage infrastructure. The harmful app appears to be an innocent Chrome internet browser yet ultimately convinces targets into allowing an ensuing invasion by granting permissions. The spyware trojan abuses the permissions to generate an avenue for remote interaction with compromised devices. The threat then obtains valuable data ranging from text messages to user call logs, an entire list of contacts, and even the data stored in the iCloud.

Where is the Threat From?

Roaming Mantis is believed to be a threat actor based in China. At the bare minimum, Roaming Mantis has connections to criminals or criminal entities in China, if not the Chinese federal government itself. It is interesting to note that at the current moment, the harmful APK file is not triggered until it is verified that the target is located within the borders of France. If the target is positioned outside France's borders, the server will spur the generation of an error status code indicating the page in question has not been found.

Where Does the Stolen Data Go?

It appears as though the stolen information will be used for extortion purposes. The stolen data will likely be sold to other digital miscreants for cryptocurrency, setting the stage for identity theft. If you have not updated your computer or network’s digital protections in recent months, seize the opportunity to do so. You'll rest easy knowing you've done your part to avoid becoming the next cyber security statistic.

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