Capture SMS Messages

A malicious application could capture sensitive data sent via SMS, including authentication credentials. SMS is frequently used to transmit codes used for multi-factor authentication.

On Android, a malicious application must request and obtain permission (either at app install time or run time) in order to receive SMS messages. Alternatively, a malicious application could attempt to perform an operating system privilege escalation attack to bypass the permission requirement.

On iOS, applications cannot access SMS messages in normal operation, so an adversary would need to attempt to perform an operating system privilege escalation attack to potentially be able to access SMS messages.

ID: T1412
Sub-techniques:  No sub-techniques
Tactic Type: Post-Adversary Device Access
Tactics: Collection, Credential Access
Platforms: Android, iOS
Version: 1.1
Created: 25 October 2017
Last Modified: 18 September 2019

Procedure Examples

Name Description

Adups transmitted the full contents of text messages.[11]


Android/Chuli.A stole SMS message content.[15]


AndroRAT captures SMS messages.[5]


Anubis can send, receive, and delete SMS messages.[24]


Bread can access SMS messages in order to complete carrier billing fraud.[28]


Cerberus can collect and send SMS messages from a device.[31]

Corona Updates

Corona Updates can collect and send SMS messages.[26]


DroidJack captures SMS data.[13]


EventBot can intercept SMS messages.[30]


Exodus Two can capture SMS messages.[19]


FinFisher captures and exfiltrates SMS messages.[16]


FlexiSpy can intercept SMS and MMS messages as well as monitor messages for keywords.[2][3]


Ginp can send and collect SMS messages.[25]


GolfSpy can collect SMS messages.[23]


Gustuff can intercept two-factor authentication codes transmitted via SMS.[20]


INSOMNIA can retrieve SMS messages and iMessages.[29]


MazarBOT can intercept two-factor authentication codes sent by online banking apps.[8]


Pallas captures and exfiltrates all SMS messages, including future messages as they are received.[16]

Pegasus for iOS

Pegasus for iOS captures SMS messages that the victim sends or receives.[9]


RCSAndroid can collect SMS, MMS, and Gmail messages.[10]


Riltok can intercept incoming SMS messages.[18]


Rotexy processes incoming SMS messages by filtering based on phone numbers, keywords, and regular expressions, focusing primarily on banks, payment systems, and mobile network operators. Rotexy can automatically reply to SMS messages, and optionally delete them. Rotexy can also send a list of all SMS messages on the device to the command and control server.[21]


RuMMS uploads incoming SMS messages to a remote command and control server.[7]


SpyDealer harvests SMS and MMS messages from victims.[4]

SpyNote RAT

SpyNote RAT can read SMS messages.[12]

Stealth Mango

Stealth Mango uploads SMS logs and deletes incoming messages from specified numbers, including those that contain particular strings.[6]


Tangelo contains functionality to gather SMS messages.[6]


Triada variants capture transaction data from SMS-based in-app purchases.[17]


TrickMo can intercept and delete SMS messages.[27]


ViceLeaker can collect SMS messages.[22]


Xbot steals all SMS message and contact information as well as intercepts and parses certain SMS messages.[1]


XLoader collects SMS messages.[14]


Mitigation Description
Application Vetting

Enterprises performing application vetting could search for applications that declare the RECEIVE_SMS permission and scrutinize them closely.

Security Updates
Use Recent OS Version


On Android, the user can view which applications have permission to access SMS messages through the device settings, and the user can choose to revoke the permission.


  1. Cong Zheng, Claud Xiao and Zhi Xu. (2016, February 18). New Android Trojan “Xbot” Phishes Credit Cards and Bank Accounts, Encrypts Devices for Ransom. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  2. Actis B. (2017, April 22). FlexSpy Application Analysis. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  3. FlexiSpy. (n.d.). FlexiSpy Monitoring Features. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  4. Wenjun Hu, Cong Zheng and Zhi Xu. (2017, July 6). SpyDealer: Android Trojan Spying on More Than 40 Apps. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  5. Lookout. (2016, May 25). 5 active mobile threats spoofing enterprise apps. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
  6. Lookout. (n.d.). Stealth Mango & Tangelo. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  7. Wu Zhou, Deyu Hu, Jimmy Su, Yong Kang. (2016, April 26). RUMMS: THE LATEST FAMILY OF ANDROID MALWARE ATTACKING USERS IN RUSSIA VIA SMS PHISHING. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  8. Graham Cluley. (2016, February 16). Android users warned of malware attack spreading via SMS. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  9. Lookout. (2016). Technical Analysis of Pegasus Spyware. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  10. Veo Zhang. (2015, July 21). Hacking Team RCSAndroid Spying Tool Listens to Calls; Roots Devices to Get In. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  11. Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt. (2016, November 15). Secret Back Door in Some U.S. Phones Sent Data to China, Analysts Say. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  12. Shivang Desai. (2017, January 23). SpyNote RAT posing as Netflix app. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  13. Viral Gandhi. (2017, January 12). Super Mario Run Malware #2 – DroidJack RAT. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  14. Lorin Wu. (2018, April 19). XLoader Android Spyware and Banking Trojan Distributed via DNS Spoofing. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
  15. Costin Raiu, Denis Maslennikov, Kurt Baumgartner. (2013, March 26). Android Trojan Found in Targeted Attack. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  16. Blaich, A., et al. (2018, January 18). Dark Caracal: Cyber-espionage at a Global Scale. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  1. Snow, J. (2016, March 3). Triada: organized crime on Android. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  2. Tatyana Shishkova. (2019, June 25). Riltok mobile Trojan: A banker with global reach. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  3. Security Without Borders. (2019, March 29). Exodus: New Android Spyware Made in Italy. Retrieved September 3, 2019.
  4. Vitor Ventura. (2019, April 9). Gustuff banking botnet targets Australia . Retrieved September 3, 2019.
  5. T. Shishkova, L. Pikman. (2018, November 22). The Rotexy mobile Trojan – banker and ransomware. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  6. GReAT. (2019, June 26). ViceLeaker Operation: mobile espionage targeting Middle East. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  7. E. Xu, G. Guo. (2019, June 28). Mobile Cyberespionage Campaign ‘Bouncing Golf’ Affects Middle East. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  8. M. Feller. (2020, February 5). Infostealer, Keylogger, and Ransomware in One: Anubis Targets More than 250 Android Applications. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
  9. ThreatFabric. (2019, November). Ginp - A malware patchwork borrowing from Anubis. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
  10. T. Bao, J. Lu. (2020, April 14). Coronavirus Update App Leads to Project Spy Android and iOS Spyware. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  11. P. Asinovsky. (2020, March 24). TrickBot Pushing a 2FA Bypass App to Bank Customers in Germany. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  12. A. Guertin, V. Kotov, Android Security & Privacy Team. (2020, January 9). PHA Family Highlights: Bread (and Friends) . Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  13. I. Beer. (2019, August 29). Implant Teardown. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  14. D. Frank, L. Rochberger, Y. Rimmer, A. Dahan. (2020, April 30). EventBot: A New Mobile Banking Trojan is Born. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  15. Threat Fabric. (2019, August). Cerberus - A new banking Trojan from the underworld. Retrieved June 26, 2020.