One of the fastest-spreading mobile malware to date has been taken down after an international law enforcement involving eleven countries. Known as FluBot, this Android malware has been spreading aggressively through SMS, stealing passwords, online banking details and other sensitive information from infected smartphones across the world, Europol announced.
FluBot infrastructure was successfully disrupted earlier in May by the Dutch Police. The investigation is ongoing to identify the individuals behind this global malware campaign.
FluBot was first spotted in December 2020. It gained traction in 2021 and compromised a huge number of devices worldwide, including significant incidents in Spain and Finland.
The malware was installed via text messages which asked Android users to click a link and install an application to track to a package delivery or listen to a fake voice mail message. Once installed, the malicious application, FluBot, would ask for accessibility permissions. The hackers would then use this access to steal banking app credentials or cryptocurrency account details and disable built-in security mechanisms.
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“This strain of malware was able to spread like wildfire due to its ability to access an infected smartphone’s contacts. Messages containing links to the FluBot malware were then sent to these numbers, helping spread the malware ever further”, Europol said.
With cases spreading across Europe and Australia, international police cooperation was central in taking down the FluBot criminal infrastructure. This take-down followed an investigation involving law enforcement authorities of Australia, Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United States, with the coordination of international activity carried out by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3).
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FluBot malware is disguised as an application, so it can be difficult to spot. There are two ways to tell whether an app may be malware:
If you tap an app, and it doesn’t open
If you try to uninstall an app, and are instead shown an error message
If you think an app may be malware, reset the phone to factory settings, Europol said in a statement.
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