A new Android malware called Flubot is spreading in Europe. FluBot steals passwords and login information to your online accounts, personal details, and banking information. The information is used to make payments (or in other words: steal your money), account takeover and online identity theft. FluBot also sends SMS messages to new victims and spreads itself further. All of this is done without the users’ knowledge.
FluBot has so far been detected mostly in European countries. It’s likely to spread also to the rest of the world if the threat actors behind it aren’t stopped.
Here’s how FluBot works
An infected device sends an SMS message that contains a phishing link. The message claims it has been sent by some well-known delivery service, like DHL, UPS, FedEx, Correos, or Amazon.
The message tells there’s a package in delivery and prompts the receiver to install a tracking app to settle the delivery time. Following the provided link, the victim downloads the malware that is masked using the delivery company’s name and logo.
Once downloaded, the “tracking app” that actually is FluBot, asks for accessibility permissions. If granted, the malware grants itself more extensive app permissions and becomes a system app. Then it can start its work.
How to remove it
If FluBot has already infected your Android device, and it has been granted accessibility right, there’s two ways you can remove it.
First you can use Android Debug Bridge (ADB) to stop the malware from being a system app, after which you can uninstall it. The phone needs to be in developer mode with ADB enabled. Here are the commands to remove the malware from system apps:
$adb shell pm disable-user <package_name>
$adb uninstall <package_name>
You can also remove it in safe mode. Activate safe mode, then head to settings and applications. Then just find the right app and remove it.
If this sounds too techy for you, you can also do a factory reset on your phone, which erases the malware. Here’s how you do a factory reset >>
Please note that while the versions of FluBot analyzed by F-Secure so far are removed by the ADB and safe mode methods, it is always possible that future version could try to root your device and/or implement persistence mechanisms which wouldn’t necessarily be removed by this method. For this reason, the factory reset is considered the safest option since it deletes all data.
Does F-Secure protect from FluBot?
F-Secure SAFE Browser detects the phishing website and warns the user to not enter the site.
If FluBot is installed, F-Secure SAFE detects it and asks the user to uninstall the malicious app.
While F-Secure SAFE can’t prevent the user from installing the app, it warns very clearly that it is not a good idea to do so.
How to stay safe from FluBot and other mobile malware
There should be no illusion about this: mobile phones are not immune to online threats. Malware, phishing, unsafe networks, and other threats for mobile phone users also exist. FluBot is just one of the newest threats out there. Here’s a few things you can do to protect your mobile phone and digital life on the go.
1. Use antivirus for mobile devices
Malware targeting mobile devices is getting more common. While official app stores are not likely to spread malware, you can get infection from other sources. F-Secure SAFE is certified for Android and it helps you keep your phone free of malware. It also secures your online shopping and banking.
2. Don’t open suspicious links
Check the email address of the sender. Due to the smaller screen space, most mobile email apps show only the name of the sender, not their address. Mobile devices are also used on the go, which makes it easier to fall for phishing scams. Don’t open suspicious links. Remember, no reputable company or authority will ask for personal information through email or SMS.
3. Avoid shady apps
While there’s no unambiguous way to tell a suspicious app from a genuine app, start by thinking what you use it for. If it’s not necessary, there’s no point in getting it. If it doesn’t work for you, delete it immediately. In case of tracking packages, you can typically do that on the carrier’s website and don’t need a separate app for that. Don’t download apps from unofficial appstores and remember that it’s not a good idea to enable the “Install from Unknown Sources” option.
4. Don’t give apps unnecessary permissions
Like in FluBot’s case, granting app permissions can enable malware and other suspicious apps to do malicious tasks. It can also lead to data leakage. Always consider what permissions you grant to apps. Why do they need them?
As an iPhone user, do I have to care about FluBot?
The malware itself isn’t a threat to iPhone users, but the phishing website can still be dangerous. Don’t open any suspicious links and be careful about what personal information you give to online services. The 4 tips provided earlier are useful for iPhone users as well.
Try F-Secure Total security app for free
To get protected against FluBot and other mobile malware, get F-Secure Total on your phone. You can try it for free for 30 days with no credit card required. You can get it to protect your computer as well with the same subscription. It’s all the protection you need for your mobile device.