Figure 1: Homepage of hxxp://*

Chronic Phishing Targets Paytm, Flipkart, Amazon users

During the 2019 — 2020 holiday season, XVigil identified several phishing sites targeting popular eCommerce companies. Many of the domains were registered in December and were subsequently taken down after Christmas or New Year. This indicates that the sites’ main targets were shoppers, eager to avail holiday discounts.

Detection of phishing sites

XVigil’s fake domain finder monitors the web for fake or similar looking domains that might infringe on a brand. When we calibrated XVigil to monitor Indian eCommerce companies, we detected a wide range of phishing domains.

Examples of sites detected by XVigil:
Homepage of phishing site hxxp://*
Figure 1: Homepage of hxxp://*



Overall Investigation

  • Firstly, we ascertained the phishing sites’ domain details, including the server, IP, registrant, and admin.
  • Prima facie, we were able to determine that the sites had certain similarities:
    • Irrespective of the eCommerce site being targeted, the most common payment platform was Paytm payment gateway.
    • Many of sites, including 2 Paytm phishing sites (hxxp://* , hxxp://*) were hosted on the same IP. So, both the sites could be the work of the same scammer/ group of scammers.
  • Some sites, though not hosted on the same server, share overall website design, look and feel, site navigation, and data input methods.

Paytm phishing analysis

  • The sites appear familiar and trustworthy because:
    • The look and feel of the sites are similar to the official Paytm site.
    • Usage of Paytm logo.
    • Transacting through the widely trusted Paytm payment gateway.
  • The sites list a limited number of products, but at highly discounted prices. For example: the listed price of the iPhone 11 is INR 5999. And there is a countdown that indicates the offer is valid only for the next few minutes. These factors make it tempting, for even the most discerning of customers, to make hasty purchases.
  • The following characteristics of the sites are proof of the scammers’ rudimentary technical skills:
    • Presence of default or dummy content.
    • Poor web design features such as blurred images and grammatical errors.
    • Poor coding practices such as the absence of validation of details entered in the phone number and pin code fields.
    • The conspicuous lack of https certification.
    • Limited product catalogue.
    • Unbelievably low pricing.

      Dummy content in the blog section of phishing site hxxp://*
      Figure 2: Dummy content in the blog section of hxxp://*
How the phishing sites work

The shopper browses the site and adds the product to the cart.

The iPhone 11 listed for INR 5999 on phishing site hxxp://*
Figure 3: The iPhone 11 listed for INR 5999 hxxp://*

The billing section collects the customer’s personal details including phone number, email id, and address. The scammers could use these details to devise other fraudulent schemes.

Billing page of phishing site hxxp://* collects personal details of users
Figure 4: Billing page of hxxp://* collects personal details of users

The customer is directed to the payment page.

Paytm payment listed as the only payment option on phishing site hxxp://*
Figure 5: Paytm payment listed as the payment option on hxxp://*

The customer then lands on the Paytm payment gateway to complete the transaction.

Users are redirected to Paytm payment gateway.
Figure 6: Users are redirected to Paytm payment gateway

Paytm Payment Gateway Analysis

Many phishing sites, irrespective of the eCommerce company they are targeting, use the Paytm payment gateway. It is notable that there are merchants registered with fake names such as ‘for’. One of the merchants goes by ‘One Communications’. The name closely mimics One97 Communications, which is Paytm’s parent company; lending the site an air of legitimacy.

Paytm payment gateway merchant ‘One Communications’
Figure 7: Paytm payment gateway merchant ‘One Communications’

From the source code of the payment pages we identified the following merchant details:

  • hxxp://*
    Merchant: One Communications
    MID: kRdXWH24078674748775
  • hxxp://*
    Merchant Name: for
    MID: GPZvOS78323169981271
  • hxxp://*
    Merchant: Online Mobile Shop
    MID: kLJwiy42558605770665
  • hxxp://*
    Merchant: Lucky Mobile And Lamination
    MID:  nixGaL07658395498481

Source Code Analysis

  • We analysed the source codes of both the sites and discovered that hxxp://* was importing the hxxp://* source code.
  • It was found that hxxp://* and hxxp://* have the same Google Analytics ID (UA-131481750-1). It is uncommon for 2 unrelated sites to have the same Google Analytics ID.

This indicates that both the sites belong to the same scammer/ group of scammers.

Source code of phishing site hxxp://*
Figure 8: Source code of hxxp://*


The contact details used to register hxxp://* are not available, and that of hxxp://* cannot be traced back to any person or organization. However, hxxp://* can be traced back to Parate Traders, a business in Nagpur.

Despite having different name servers, hxxp://* and hxxp://* are hosted on the same IP. Therefore, whoever runs hxxp://*, is likely responsible for hxxp://* also.

Impact of phishing

Social media post of a user scammed by a Paytm phishing site
Figure 9: Social media post of a user scammed by a Paytm phishing site

Phishing scams are the oldest and most rampant type of cyber threats. They are fairly simple to orchestrate, but have the potential to severely impact a company’s reputation and revenue.

Apart from the targeted eCommerce companies, phishing also damages the reputation of the payment gateway that facilitates the fraud. Paytm for Business enables a variety of online and offline transactions. Hence its reputation, among shoppers and legitimate merchants, will be tarnished by the concerted misuse.

We found a social media poster who claims to have lost money to a Paytm phishing site. Other than the immediate loss of money, users could become victims of other scams that leverage the personal details, collected via the phishing sites.


Considering how easy it is to buy a domain, phishing cannot be tackled by taking down pages or sites. Also, companies often detect phishing sites, only after users have been affected. To begin with, eCommerce companies should proactively monitor and take down phishing sites. In addition, Paytm should also disable/block the scammers’ Paytm for Business accounts. This will hinder transactions on all phishing sites that use the same merchant accounts.

In the long term, eCommerce companies should identify and counteract the servers that host these phishing sites. Furthermore, they should also take action against scammers, whom they can identify, by leveraging the domain details and MIDs.


Phishing sites such as hxxp://*, hxxp://*, and hxxp://*, are not anomalies. When combined with the misuse of Paytm payment gateway, these scams indicate, a concerted effort to exploit Paytm and its users.

A company’s brand image is the fruit of sustained effort and strategic planning. However, it takes only one malicious attack, to undo the hard won trust and goodwill of their customers. And any damage to this intangible asset can have serious and far-reaching consequences.

A continuous monitoring tool, such as CoudSEK’s XVigil, helps companies sustain continual brand scan, to effectively combat fake pages, impostors, rogue applications, and domains.

*Note: All http links have been obfuscated to hxxp to avoid spam alerts. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Dark Web and ATM Hacking

The dark web, which is a component of the deep web, is the nesting ground of online, as well as offline criminal activities. Though most of us have a general understanding of the dark web, we are still unaware of the specific activities it facilitates, and how it affects us on a daily basis.

ATMs are a common part of our everyday lives, yet we know little about how ATMs can be exploited, by even the most novice of attackers. At CloudSEK, we have unearthed a range of techniques and devices, that are used and sold on the dark web, for the purpose of hacking ATMs. 

There used to be a time when hacking an ATM required sophisticated skills and tools. Not anymore. We have encountered amateurs with rudimentary skills, who have hacked ATMs, using the tools and tutorials available on dark web marketplaces. This is possible because the devices sold on the dark web come with detailed instruction manuals. And most of these devices can be operated remotely, using an Antenna, to target systems that run on basic Windows XP. 

ATM Malware Card

On the dark web, anybody can buy an ATM Malware Card, that comes with the PIN Descriptor, Trigger Card and an Instruction Guide. This manual provides step-by-step instructions on how to use the card to suspend cash from ATM machines. Once the ATM Malware card is installed in the ATM, it captures card details of all the customers who subsequently use the ATM. The Trigger card is then used to dispense cash from ATMs.

(Fig.1: Screenshot of dark web shopping site: ATM Malware Card with product description)
(Fig.1: Screenshot of dark web shopping site: ATM Malware Card with product description)

The image above, shows the product description provided on dark web marketplaces, to advertise the features and benefits. This malware mainly targets ATM machines that run on Windows XP. This card is capable of drawing out all the money that is available in the affected machine; which could amount to as much as $500,000. The product description is so detailed that even a layman can use it to hack an ATM. 

USB ATM Malware 

Another prevalent method to fraudulently dispense cash from ATM Machines, is by infecting them with a Malware hosted USB drive. This method also targets  machines that run on Windows XP. 


(Fig.2: Screenshot of dark web shopping site: USB ATM Malware with product description)
(Fig.2: Screenshot of dark web shopping site: USB ATM Malware with product description)

This image describes the product in simple words, with details about what files are contained in the USB drive, and instructions on how to use it to orchestrate an attack.


Apart from individual sellers, there are also online shops that sell such products. One such shop is the ATM Skimmer Shop (all in one), that offers ATM hacking appliances such as EMV Skimmers, GSM Receivers, ATM Skimmers, PoSs, Gas Pumps, Deep Inserts, etc. 

(Fig.3: Screenshot of ATMSKIMMER Shop on the dark web)
(Fig.3: Screenshot of ATMSKIMMER Shop on the dark web)

The same shop also offers prepaid credit cards with high balances at different price points. The shop also updates and stocks itself with the latest cracking devices released in the market, such as POS Terminals, Upgraded Antenna, custom-made ATM Skimmers, RFID Reader/Writer, etc. This shop was previously available on the surface web, but is now available only on the dark web. Here, hacking devices that need be physically attached to ATM machines, such as the ATM Insert Skimmer or Deep insert, are also sold


(Fig.4: Screenshot of dark web shopping site: Deep Insert with product description)
(Fig.4: Screenshot of dark web shopping site: Deep Insert with product description)

The image above describes the benefits of using an insert skimmer to hack an ATM. It is advertised as a “plug and play” product, implying that it is a ready-to-use product. 

Anyone who has access to the dark web and this shop, can order any of their products, hassle-free. Another such online shopping site is the Undermarket that claims to sell bank fullz and physical bank cards on their platform. 

(Fig.5: Screenshot of Undermarket forum posts suggesting the availability of Fullz)
(Fig.5: Screenshot of Undermarket forum posts suggesting the availability of Fullz)

There are underground hacking forums that discuss and sell tutorials on how to hack bank accounts using Botnets, and other such topics. Forums such as Optimus Store, sell these malicious files for $100. 

(Fig.6: Screenshot of dark web forum: Files that aid hacking put for sale)
(Fig.6: Screenshot of dark web forum: Files that aid hacking put for sale)

A recently uncovered, active ATM Jackpotting method that uses a malware, is called Ploutus-D. It works by compromising components of a well-known multivendor ATM software, to gain control over hardware devices such as dispensers, card readers, and pin pads. It allows the hacker to suspend all the cash from affected machines, in a few minutes. The source code for this malware, along with instructions on how to use it, are sold on the dark web.

(Fig.7: Screenshot of shopping site on the dark web: Ploutus-D added to cart)
(Fig.7: Screenshot of shopping site on the dark web: Ploutus-D added to cart)


Be Vigilant

As hacking tools and techniques become ubiquitous, it is important to be aware and vigilant, by understanding new and sophisticated trends in hacking, and how you can defend yourself against them. 

About XVigil

XVigil Solutions provide organizations unified supervision across the internet, their brand, and their infrastructure. It yields analytics and actionable intelligence, needed to tackle external threats, by deploying comprehensive security scans and monitors.

See how XVigil has helped businesses across the globe combat digital risks:

Learn more about XVigil:

Opera (Presto) Source Code Leaked on Dark Web

by Rakesh Krishnan

Leaking the source code of the proprietary tools is not a new scenario in the cyber threat arena. Recently, Windows 10 source code was leaked into “Beta Archives’ FTP”; (later removed) which is an active discussion forum on Windows Releases.

Sometimes, it may be an Insider Threat (Breach) or other times, it may be an Intrusion which ultimately classified into “Leaks”.

Few months ago, the source code of the proprietary tool named “Presto”- a browser layout engine used by Opera, was leaked in January 2017 into a code sharing site “GitHub” and later to “BitBucket”. Although Opera is recognized as an open source material in the outer world; the layout engine which they were using earlier was a proprietary product inside the Opera Community.

It was taken down immediately by the DMCA Takedown Request filed by Opera; the complete packages had been removed from multiple code sharing platforms like GitHub and BitBucket.

The netizens had expressed their notion against the takedown of Presto Engine; expressing their views to open source the product; voicing through social media platforms like Reddit and other online forums; but no response hit back.



The whole repository of Presto Engine had come live in the TOR network sited as http://xxxxxxxx5q5s4urp.onion/.

This onion site also provided the ways to download the entire package (which is huge) using the following wget command:

wget -m http://xxxxxxxx5q5s4urp.onion/

In case, if any error occurs while mirroring/downloading the complete onion domain; the site had also facilitated it by subdividing each branch; hence making it into archives format: http://xxxxxxxx5q5s4urp.onion/browser.git/, so that clone command can be used effectively as:

git clone xxxxxxq5s4urp.onion/browser.git

During an investigation, it was found that the onion site had been created on 20th December, 2017 and is hosted on an unstable Nginx server. It was accessible at some time; which makes it unstable.

Hosting the leak in the deep web is a clever method to evade the take downs from DMCA or other legal entities, as the onion domains will not be tracked; and can’t break until it is attacked by any means like DDoS.

Presto was being used by Opera till 2013; switched to WebKit engine.

Although the source code had been in no use; still it can be referenced by anyone to analyze the methods in the Opera community; hence the future proprietary apps from Opera could be using the same strategy for the development.

CloudSEK is a Unified Risk Management Platform. Our AI/ML technology based products XVigil and CloudMon monitor threats originating from the Web, DarkWeb, Deep Web,  Web applications etc.. and provide real time alerts.

Santa-APT: Android and Blackberry Malware Technical Analysis Part 2

CloudSEK is an artificial intelligence technology-based risk monitoring enterprise, which focuses on customized, intelligent security monitors.

CloudSEK’s SaaS-based products help a client, assess security real-time from the perspective of an attacker 24*7. Our monitors track our client’s various Internet-based resources for potential security risks. Instead of using traditional static threat detection engines and manual verification process our monitors use Artificial Intelligence to identify threats.

The blog is an analysis of some critical information CloudSEK acquired from our data partner.

At CloudSEK we monitor and attribute all potential threats that affect Cloud services. In our previous blog we wrote about a group of attackers code named as Santa-APT that was functioning as a cyber crime unit as well as an APT. This team targeted Cloud servicing vendors as well.

Santa-APT team had multiple games and apps on Playstore as well as other android markets. These games never had all permissions required to do full data theft. The actual malware payloads came as updates.  They not only had Android Malware but Blackberry versions too. In this blog we will provide more technical details regarding their payloads.

Screenshot of Santa-APT mobile malware interface.

Part 1 attribution:

As mentioned before, the payloads come in the form of an Update. Here we are sharing the analysis of three different updates [2 for android and 1 for Blackberry] that are used by Santa-APT.

Android SMS stealers:

These updates are for stealing SMS information, similarly they have updates that can perform various other functionalities as mentioned in our previous article.


MD5 (remote.apk) = af543393e0d6da372cd781a928895c79

MD5 (IncomingSMSApp-1.apk) = 5bd71e7b465c1a8435ff0d4b093289e3sha256






This update steals messages from devices and sends it off to a CNC server. From the looks of it, this is just testing app which will later be integrated to a full-fledged malware.

Sending text message code:

It connects to the backend, which pushes xml. The xmlpullparser modules parses the received xml and executes the tasks in the application accordingly.

Android Call, Camera and GPS collection:


App Name : Android Care

Launcher Display name: update

SHA512(aps.apk)= 92c2979398c7f89c19d2a7e038a4fbca2dce99fc1741382b27abefb46e5fd8ed5c887ff8ca5ec0b39c15f47955e62f3f29a9cd8a6dace3509ce2bcd4975de37c

Malware Class: droidFakePatch

sha256: 21ae32e66f80e8479264163eec340732c05c1f7d7d408c7d2ff623deaba4a920

This module has the functionality to collect call, GPS and camera data. This mostly works on triggers. Like lets say the user is in a specific building , then it sends an sms to the Master number. Various other triggers like talking while driving etc is calculated . It is possible from the admin site to configure what all triggers are configured and so on. This data comes from the server in XML format which is parsed by the Spyware app. We have previously documented the controller interface that does this functionality .

While trying to un-install, it gives an intimidating message like below, where in the user thinks that he should be doing something wrong and doesn’t un-install.

This is achieved by fiddling with the android:label section in the androidManifest.xml file.


From the phone dialer, its possible to check if this spyware is running or not by dailing

*#0006#, this must be added for testing purpose.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.10.40 PM

There is an XML endpoint which gets config data such as “set Master Number” etc. The alerts are sent to this number when a trigger is activated.  Following are the data it collects.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.13.55 PM


Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.15.55 PM


A module that steals pretty much everything. 

Name: droidFakePatch

Type:  Class file

Signatures :

sha256: 21ae32e66f80e8479264163eec340732c05c1f7d7d408c7d2ff623deaba4a920



The application disguises itself as an android secure patch, when installed disappears from the Android Launcher, which convinces the user to believe that the patch would be applied. The app runs as a background service and provides no GUI or App icons for a user to interact with. It monitors for calls, sms, contacts, Images and Videos in the device and connects to a CNC server over network. While reverse engineering the malware, it appears to be well structured and carefully planned.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.48.33 PM


The app requests permissions for almost all the data it needs to spy on. It also requests for certain system level permissions that would be granted if the device running the app runs an outdated version of android, since some permissions were moved to signature level recently in the latest releases of android.

Permissions requested:

– make calls and reroute calls

– read and send sms

– read Bookmark, history

– read/write to SDcard

– full network access

– run at startup

– change system settings, prevent sleep, change audio settings etc

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.49.03 PM


Once the application has started, it removes itself from the Launcher Screen and starts the background activity. It achieves this by calling the below API.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.51.07 PM

Most of application logic is run within the background service. The Controller Class verifies if it’s the first run or not by reading values from shared preferences and issues intents accordingly.


Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.51.48 PM

OnStart Method of the MainService Class also registers an Intent Filter for two events, i.e. android.intent.action.SCREEN_ON, android.intent.action.SCREEN_OFF, which enables the application to be aware of the above events while a user turns on and off his mobile device screen.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.52.50 PM

The app then checks for the SimIMSI number, logs SIM change events and updates its internal database. It also logs the users phone number, the state of the phone etc. and also registers observers for contacts, SMS, images and video as shown below. These observers notify the application in their onChange methods, where there is code to update the new entries in the internal database and later upload it to the CNC.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.53.05 PM

The application has capabilities for camera, audio, video and call recording which it has permissions for. The data is either stored in the SDcard or within the sandbox and later uploaded to the CNC. The data uploaded is done using plain http, xml data over http as well as by an sftp module.


Application Sandbox:

Most of the structured data; like incoming / outgoing call lists, contacts, SMS, GPS information etc. is stored in the database and uploaded to the CNC when a network connection is available. There are no native binaries used in the application. Shared preferences file is used to maintain the state of service that is run in the background.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 2.00.13 PM

Blackberry Malwares :

The group performed operations similar to the android updates for stealing Blackberry users data.

Name: Update.jar

Type:  Java archive

Signatures :

SHA512(Update.jar)= 0302bbf67937cffc8177511481165ab53d3cbdabfaf2cd2cdfda04633d18b5eedc49a066b593de4f822a301392817b2b047aef276ef8faee7172dc8a5d7f08e2
SHA512(Update.jar)= 73d7afeb0af7efe579ddcefa2823c5f05d4465a93df123e2c3a63fc817283b032c7ecd11e312c0ca8c90e843ebe372771032efcf6c88e1bc84a40cf3fd429449
SHA512(Update.jar)= e97fefb240845e2ddd234dcec13e59ef038229ea42f7bad878fc407f219ff54443b6682aea1dc58fc85d22c45cc3a97e2ec3fd294b06e1262c66fffed2acacd6
SHA512(Update.jar)= e97fefb240845e2ddd234dcec13e59ef038229ea42f7bad878fc407f219ff54443b6682aea1dc58fc85d22c45cc3a97e2ec3fd294b06e1262c66fffed2acacd6
SHA512(Update.jar)= e97fefb240845e2ddd234dcec13e59ef038229ea42f7bad878fc407f219ff54443b6682aea1dc58fc85d22c45cc3a97e2ec3fd294b06e1262c66fffed2acacd6
SHA512(Update.jar)= 73d7afeb0af7efe579ddcefa2823c5f05d4465a93df123e2c3a63fc817283b032c7ecd11e312c0ca8c90e843ebe372771032efcf6c88e1bc84a40cf3fd429449
SHA512(Update.jar)= 0302bbf67937cffc8177511481165ab53d3cbdabfaf2cd2cdfda04633d18b5eedc49a066b593de4f822a301392817b2b047aef276ef8faee7172dc8a5d7f08e2

Blackberry version of the malware steals the following information.

  1. Emails
  2. Media files
  3. Contacts
  4. MMS data
  5. Calendar
  6. Audio recording
  7. SMS
  8. GPS location
  9. Installed applications

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 4.06.56 PM


The collected data is uploaded and visualised on the same controller that is used by the android malware. The Blackberry malware uses Blackberry APIs . The code flaw and feature sets are all identical to the android malware. A more detailed analysis would be added if required in our next blog.


Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 3.59.54 PM


The group has full-fledged malware capable of spying users in almost all avenues possible. Santa-APT team  doesn’t utilize any root / privilege escalation exploits, but makes use of the permissions the user granted it and quietly skims data to the CNC server. Hardcoded server addresses and API endpoints is spread in the binary and the networking module and uses both HTTP and sFTP communication to the CNC. Even though santa-APT had OSX developers and OSX applications, we have not identified any OSX malware form this group.

The target of this APT is so diverse, ranging from government officials, high profile individuals to engineers from technology companies. More attribution , victim informations and artifacts about Santa-APT could be provided on request at [theoracle (-@-) ]

CloudSEK is thankful to Anto Joseph from garage4hackers for the android malware analysis.

Crimeware / APT Malware Masquerade as Santa Claus and Christmas Apps

by Rahul Sasi

CloudSEK is an artificial intelligence technology-based risk management enterprise, which focuses on customized, intelligent security monitors.

CloudSEK’s SaaS-based products help a client, assess security real-time from the perspective of an attacker 24*7. Our monitors track our client’s various Internet-based resources for potential security risks. Instead of using traditional static threat detection engines and manual verification process our monitors use Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to identify threats.

The blog is an analysis of some critical information CloudSEK acquired from our data partner.


CloudSEK monitors were researching the activities of an APT [Advanced persistent threat ] that is targeting software companies globally.What is interesting is this APT appear to conduct widespread intellectual property theft for economic gains, targeted individuals as well as performed intelligence gathering that would be useful for governments. Based on our analysis , the attacker have recently launched campaigns to target Christmas season. Malware masquerades as Santa Claus and many similar Christmas Apps.

Brief Overview :

CloudSEK was monitoring an underground hacking team, that was selling a Desktop malware in various underground forums. The desktop malware is specifically designed for jumping air-gapped systems , and given the type of documents the attackers are seeking , it was collecting classified data from software companies and government organisations.

The desktop malware after successful installation proceeds to callback to its controllers located in Germany . The main attraction of this Trojan is the capability to collect data from air-gapped systems. The trojan gathers system information and disk information and sends that to the controller. The malware collects two sets of data:

  1. Files
  2. Screenshots

One of the features was a USB module that is capable of collecting data from air-gapped systems [No internet access] . This module copies important data from an infected system to a plugged-in USB device till it reaches an infect machine that has got internet access. The malware was also copying trash folder from infected system into a hidden volume on the connected USB .

CloudSEK was able to obtain more information on attackers infrastructure and was able to identify how exfiltrated data was placed on the attacker’s servers . We observed that the data collected  are stored in a folders marked by an infection id on the controllers. Each victim will has an infection id and a folder related to his/her data.

 Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 1.53.11 AM

Controllers seemed to have almost 120 GB of data as Malware and are constantly collecting critical files from infected machines.  The collected data are kept in their respective folders.


Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 1.41.06 AM

Even though there were folders for key-logging and voice recording no actual code for this was found within the trojan nor any data on the controllers. It is possible the Trojan is still under development.

Based on many artefacts collected from this malware, controllers as well as passive dns query, its is confirmed that a company based in South Asia is responsible for the development of this malware. This company would be referred as santa-apt from here on.   This company on its website says that they provide software development consultation as well as provides spy softwares to monitor employees. Based on the above, CloudSEK monitors were constantly tracking this hacking team and our trackers were able to find the following information.

  1. CloudSEK found that Santa-APT is recruiting for Mobile App developers.
  2. Many of the developers who are working for Santa-APT has mobile application background [IPhone and Android ].
  3. We identified Santa-APT Mobile malware are masquerading as Games and utilities.
  4. And recently attackers started pushing malware pretending to be Santa Clause games.
  5. We identified many malware controllers used by Santa-APT .
  6. One of the malware controllers managed by Santa-APT belongs to a mobile malware .
  7. The mobile malware controller had nearly 8k infections .

Screenshot of the Android and  iOS Malware used by the team:

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 12.54.35 AMScreen Shot 2015-12-16 at 6.04.42 AM

We were able to get more information about the controllers and how collected data was monitored on the controllers. Further in this blog we would explain in detail about the various operations performed by the Mobile malware.

CloudSEK monitors were constantly tracking this hacking team and their infrastructure . While checking the contents of many applications owned by Santa-apt, we identified their mobile malware. The mobile malware after infection connected back to a C&C server over http. This IP was in the same network range as the desktop malware and was hosted in Germany.  The application is a mobile malware admin interface code named as “top gun”. There were almost 8k infected mobile users on that control panel.

CloudSEK was able to collect more data about the internal working of the mobile malware.

The controller had admin users as well as normal users:

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 2.42.35 AM


Each infected user data could be viewed by logging in with a username and password on the user panel .

User Data Dashboard:

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 2.46.14 AM

The mobile malware had the feature to upload the following data to the control panel.

  1. Contacts
  2. SMS
  3. Call Records
  4. Location Info
  5. Calendar
  6. Camera
  7. Cam Shots
  8. Video
  9. Environment Recordings
  10. Browser History
  11. Program Info
  12. Change Sim Card
  13. Device Status

That’s pretty much everything on the phone. And like every other android malware , the user has to grant permissions for app, and our Santa request for all the possible permissions.

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 4.54.45 PM

It has  a feature to upload minute-by-minute location of the user.

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 2.56.58 AM

Stolen SMS from infected Phones:

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 3.06.00 AM

Attacks were capable to play recorded call messages.

View/play call records:

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 3.07.26 AM



Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 3.10.36 AM

Uploaded gallery contents video/image  from infected phones:
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Environment recordings:

An interesting feature to the controller was an option to send an alert to attacker if his victims leaves a particular region on map or enters a pre set region. This way attackers could track if his victim has reached office or left office. So if victims enters/leaves a pre set location, then the attackers gets an sms notification. Triggers are also made for calls and sms from a preset individual.

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Triggers could be used to record the environment of the user and upload back to the server.

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This Christmas make sure you think about security before installing an app.Verify the permissions you are granting an application before accepting them. Ensure that an application has enough legitimate reviews . And last but not the least, do not let someone else install any application on your official/personal devices.


About CloudSEK:

CloudSEK’s SaaS-based solution monitor client’s online assets from the perspective of an attacker 24/7 . CloudSEK monitor leverages modern machine learning technology to detect threats real time and provide actionable intelligence.
The target of this APT are so diverse, ranging from government officials , high profile individuals to engineers from technology companies .  More attribution , victim informations and artefacts about Santa-APT could be provided on request at [theoracle (-@-) ]