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

Adups transmitted the full contents of text messages.[1]

Android/Chuli.A

Android/Chuli.A stole SMS message content.[2]

AndroRAT

AndroRAT captures SMS messages.[3]

Bread

Bread can access SMS messages in order to complete carrier billing fraud.[4]

Cerberus

Cerberus can collect SMS messages from a device.[5]

Corona Updates

Corona Updates can collect SMS messages.[6]

Dendroid

Dendroid can intercept SMS messages.[7]

Desert Scorpion

Desert Scorpion can retrieve SMS messages.[8]

DroidJack

DroidJack captures SMS data.[9]

EventBot

EventBot can intercept SMS messages.[10]

Exodus

Exodus Two can capture SMS messages.[11]

FakeSpy

FakeSpy can collect SMS messages.[12]

FinFisher

FinFisher captures and exfiltrates SMS messages.[13]

FlexiSpy

FlexiSpy can intercept SMS and MMS messages as well as monitor messages for keywords.[14][15]

Ginp

Ginp can collect SMS messages.[16]

GolfSpy

GolfSpy can collect SMS messages.[17]

Gustuff

Gustuff can intercept two-factor authentication codes transmitted via SMS.[18]

INSOMNIA

INSOMNIA can retrieve SMS messages and iMessages.[19]

Mandrake

Mandrake can access SMS messages.[20]

MazarBOT

MazarBOT can intercept two-factor authentication codes sent by online banking apps.[21]

Pallas

Pallas captures and exfiltrates all SMS messages, including future messages as they are received.[13]

Pegasus for iOS

Pegasus for iOS captures SMS messages that the victim sends or receives.[22]

RCSAndroid

RCSAndroid can collect SMS, MMS, and Gmail messages.[23]

Riltok

Riltok can intercept incoming SMS messages.[24]

Rotexy

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 also send a list of all SMS messages on the device to the command and control server.[25]

RuMMS

RuMMS uploads incoming SMS messages to a remote command and control server.[26]

SpyDealer

SpyDealer harvests SMS and MMS messages from victims.[27]

SpyNote RAT

SpyNote RAT can read SMS messages.[28]

Stealth Mango

Stealth Mango uploads SMS messages.[29]

Tangelo

Tangelo contains functionality to gather SMS messages.[29]

Triada

Triada variants capture transaction data from SMS-based in-app purchases.[30]

TrickMo

TrickMo can intercept SMS messages.[31]

ViceLeaker

ViceLeaker can collect SMS messages.[32]

ViperRAT

ViperRAT can collect SMS messages.[33]

WolfRAT

WolfRAT can collect SMS messages.[34]

Xbot

Xbot steals all SMS message and contact information as well as intercepts and parses certain SMS messages.[35]

XLoader for Android

XLoader for Android collects SMS messages.[36]

Mitigations

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

Detection

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.

References

  1. 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.
  2. Costin Raiu, Denis Maslennikov, Kurt Baumgartner. (2013, March 26). Android Trojan Found in Targeted Attack. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  3. Lookout. (2016, May 25). 5 active mobile threats spoofing enterprise apps. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
  4. A. Guertin, V. Kotov, Android Security & Privacy Team. (2020, January 9). PHA Family Highlights: Bread (and Friends) . Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  5. Threat Fabric. (2019, August). Cerberus - A new banking Trojan from the underworld. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  6. T. Bao, J. Lu. (2020, April 14). Coronavirus Update App Leads to Project Spy Android and iOS Spyware. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  7. Marc Rogers. (2014, March 6). Dendroid malware can take over your camera, record audio, and sneak into Google Play. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  8. A. Blaich, M. Flossman. (2018, April 16). Lookout finds new surveillanceware in Google Play with ties to known threat actor targeting the Middle East. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  9. Viral Gandhi. (2017, January 12). Super Mario Run Malware #2 – DroidJack RAT. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  10. D. Frank, L. Rochberger, Y. Rimmer, A. Dahan. (2020, April 30). EventBot: A New Mobile Banking Trojan is Born. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  11. Security Without Borders. (2019, March 29). Exodus: New Android Spyware Made in Italy. Retrieved September 3, 2019.
  12. O. Almkias. (2020, July 1). FakeSpy Masquerades as Postal Service Apps Around the World. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  13. Blaich, A., et al. (2018, January 18). Dark Caracal: Cyber-espionage at a Global Scale. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  14. Actis B. (2017, April 22). FlexSpy Application Analysis. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  15. FlexiSpy. (n.d.). FlexiSpy Monitoring Features. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  16. ThreatFabric. (2019, November). Ginp - A malware patchwork borrowing from Anubis. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
  17. E. Xu, G. Guo. (2019, June 28). Mobile Cyberespionage Campaign ‘Bouncing Golf’ Affects Middle East. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  18. Vitor Ventura. (2019, April 9). Gustuff banking botnet targets Australia . Retrieved September 3, 2019.
  1. I. Beer. (2019, August 29). Implant Teardown. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  2. R. Gevers, M. Tivadar, R. Bleotu, A. M. Barbatei, et al.. (2020, May 14). Uprooting Mandrake: The Story of an Advanced Android Spyware Framework That Went Undetected for 4 Years. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  3. Graham Cluley. (2016, February 16). Android users warned of malware attack spreading via SMS. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  4. Lookout. (2016). Technical Analysis of Pegasus Spyware. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  5. Veo Zhang. (2015, July 21). Hacking Team RCSAndroid Spying Tool Listens to Calls; Roots Devices to Get In. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  6. Tatyana Shishkova. (2019, June 25). Riltok mobile Trojan: A banker with global reach. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  7. T. Shishkova, L. Pikman. (2018, November 22). The Rotexy mobile Trojan – banker and ransomware. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  8. 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.
  9. Wenjun Hu, Cong Zheng and Zhi Xu. (2017, July 6). SpyDealer: Android Trojan Spying on More Than 40 Apps. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  10. Shivang Desai. (2017, January 23). SpyNote RAT posing as Netflix app. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  11. Lookout. (n.d.). Stealth Mango & Tangelo. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  12. Snow, J. (2016, March 3). Triada: organized crime on Android. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  13. P. Asinovsky. (2020, March 24). TrickBot Pushing a 2FA Bypass App to Bank Customers in Germany. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  14. GReAT. (2019, June 26). ViceLeaker Operation: mobile espionage targeting Middle East. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  15. M. Flossman. (2017, February 16). ViperRAT: The mobile APT targeting the Israeli Defense Force that should be on your radar. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  16. W. Mercer, P. Rascagneres, V. Ventura. (2020, May 19). The wolf is back... . Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  17. 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.
  18. Lorin Wu. (2018, April 19). XLoader Android Spyware and Banking Trojan Distributed via DNS Spoofing. Retrieved July 6, 2018.