Transparency Tribe:Cyber Hacking alert Disguised as YouTube
Transparency Tribe, a hacking group linked to Pakistan, launches a new campaign to distribute Android spyware disguised as a YouTube app
The Transparency Tribe hacking group is conducting a new cyber hacking campaign that distributes Android-based spyware disguised as a YouTube app by luring victims with romance-themed content. Sentinel Labs researchers have identified three Android application packages associated with the group, and while the malicious apps mimic YouTube, they have limited functionality. The group has been active since 2013, primarily targeting military and diplomatic personnel in India and Pakistan, and has recently expanded into the education sector in India.
Their latest tactic is to lure victims with romance-themed content and distribute Android-based spyware cleverly disguised as YouTube.
which provides a gateway to take control of the victim’s Android device.
Sentinel Labs researchers identified three Android application packages (APKs) associated with the remote access trojan CapraRAT used by Transformant Tribe.
Two of the APKs were designed to trick users into downloading what appeared to be a genuine YouTube app,
The third APK leverages romance-based social engineering to engage users through a YouTube channel associated with the persona “Piya Sharma,” the report said.
While these malicious apps mimic YouTube, they have fewer features than the legitimate native Android YouTube application, as security researchers at Sentinel Labs detailed in their blog post.
The Transformative Tribe has been active in cyber espionage since 2013, primarily targeting military and diplomatic personnel in India and Pakistan.
More recently, it has expanded its campaign to target India’s education sector and has taken full advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to launch attacks against remote workers.
The group typically distributes Android-based spyware, often hiding malicious payloads behind fake office documents.
“CapraRAT,” as Trend Micro dubbed it early last year, is the latest attack tool to target Android users, with the malware masquerading as an Android framework and installing itself within other applications.
It is notable for its unique structure that hides its RAT (remote access trojan) capabilities within other applications.
Upon installation, CapraRAT requests several device permissions that match the expected functionality of YouTube, including access to the camera and microphone for taking photos and videos.
However, the malware also asks for permissions that reveal its malicious intentions, including the ability to send, receive, and read SMS messages.
Once installed on an infected Android device, CapraRAT is granted permissions to perform a variety of functions, including account locator, access to the contact list, and the ability to read, modify, or delete content from the device’s SD card.
Once executed, the malicious app uses webview to load the YouTube website, but in a different way than the native YouTube app for Android, which resembles a mobile web browser experience.
Sentinel Labs strongly warns individuals and organisations involved in diplomatic, military, or activist affairs in India or Pakistan to be extremely vigilant about potential attacks from Transformant Tribe, especially this latest campaign that uses YouTube as a front to lure victims.
Android users should refrain from installing Android applications from anywhere other than the official Google Play Store and avoid downloading new social media applications advertised by social media communities.
Users should also carefully review the permissions requested by applications, especially for new or unfamiliar apps, to avoid putting themselves at risk. It is important to never install third-party versions of applications that are already installed on your device as they can potentially pose a security risk.