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Malicious Android dialler resists its removal

October 27, 2014

Doctor Web's security researchers have discovered a malicious dialler program that infects Android handhelds and possesses a strong self-defence mechanism. Malicious programs that make expensive calls without user consent are by no means a novelty. They were quite common in the era of slow dial-up connections established by means of a modem and later came to attack mobile devices. Their main objective is to establish a connection using a certain phone number (usually one associated with adult entertainment), so that a substantial amount is debited from the subscriber's account and makes its way into criminals' pockets. Nowadays programs like this aren't that common; however, sometimes criminals still employ them to obtain illicit profits.

The malware for Android that entered the Dr.Web virus database as Android.Dialer.7.origin is a conventional malicious dialler, making calls to premium numbers. Spread in the guise of an application for adults, it places its shortcut, without an icon or any captions, on the home screen which can make users believe that the installation has failed. In some cases after its launch, Android.Dialer.7.origin can display an error message about the unavailability of the requested service, after which it hides its tracks in the infected system by deleting the shortcut, and operates in the guise of a system service. The service can be launched using the shortcut, but alternately the dialler can activate it automatically after a system restart, so it doesn't require user intervention to start its malicious activities.

screen screen

The service started by Android.Dialer.7.origin periodically calls the number 803402470 which is stored in the dialler’s settings. However, if necessary, intruders can change the target phone number by issuing a corresponding command from the command and control server. This makes Android.Dialer.7.origin more flexible and enables criminals to profit from several chargeable services simultaneously.

To reduce the likelihood that users will detect its unwanted activities, the dialler disables the earpiece of the mobile device during unsolicited phone calls and removes all traces of its activities. It also clears the system log and call list of all damaging information.

However, the main distinguishing feature of this dialler is its ability to resist user attempts to remove it from an infected mobile device: whenever victims attempt to open the system settings section responsible for managing applications, Android.Dialer.7.origin redirects them to the home screen. In effect, manual removal of the malware becomes impossible.

Dr.Web anti-viruses detect and remove the dialler from protected mobile devices, so handhelds running Dr.Web for Android and Dr.Web for Android Light are well protected against this threat. If you are having trouble deleting Android.Dialer.7.origin, use the built-in emergency unlock feature and then repeat the scan and cure steps.

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