Flubot Malware: NCC Alerts Telecom Consumers on New Virus Attacking Android Phones

The Nigerian Communications Commission has cautioned millions of telecoms consumers against the new, high-risk, and extremely-damaging malware, and offered measures to prevent the FluBot attack that ‘targets Androids with fake security updates and App installations’

As the FluBot Android banking malware spreads in certain leading economies in the world, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has alerted millions of telecoms consumers of the existence of new, high-risk and extremely-damaging malware, and offered measures to prevent attack.

The telecoms sector regulator describes a malware as “a generic word used to describe a virus or software, designed specially to ‘disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorised access to a computer system.’ ”

The GreenLand News reports the FluBot malware, currently, is spreading on Android devices through Short Messaging Service (SMS) in the United Kingdom (UK), Spain, Germany and Poland respectively.

The malware apparently disguises itself as a delivery tracking app and steals passwords from your device.

Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs of NCC, who disclosed this development in a statement issued Friday, October 22, 2021, in Abuja, FCT, referenced the information received Friday from the Nigeria Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT), that Flubot “targets Androids with fake security updates and App installations”.

The Commission noted the announcement is part of its commitment to empowering consumers through useful information and education in order to protect them from falling victim to all kinds of cyberattacks while online.

The NCC Director of Public Affairs disclosed the ngCERT affirmed that Flubot “impersonates Android mobile banking applications to draw fake Web view on targeted applications”.

According to NCC, the goal of FluBot malware transcends stealing personal data as it essentially, targets stealing of credit card details or online banking credentials on consumers’ Android phones.

FluBot is circulated through Short Message Service (SMS) and can snoop “on incoming notifications, initiate calls, read or write SMSes, and transmit the victim’s contact list to its control centre,” the statement said.

The Commission stated: “This malware attacks Android devices by pretending to be ‘FedEx, DHL, Correos, and Chrome applications’, and compels unsuspecting users to alter the accessibility configurations on their devices in order to maintain continuous presence on devices.

“The new malware undermines the security of devices by copying fake login screens of prominent banks, and the moment the users enter their login details on the fake pages, their data is harvested and transmitted to the malware operators’ control point from where the data is exploited by intercepting banking-related One-Time Passwords (OTPs) and replacing the default SMS app on the targeted Android device.”

Accordingly, the telecoms regulator further noted that the malware secures admittance into the consumer’s device through SMS, and proceeds to transmit similar messages to other contacts that may be on the device it has attacked, enticing them into downloading the fake app in the process.

“When Flubot infects a device, it can result in incalculable financial losses. Additionally, the malware creates a backdoor which grants access to the user’s device, thus enabling the invader or attacker to perform other criminal actions, including launching other variants of malware,” the NCC stated.

Dr. Adinde also stressed in view of this discovery and understanding of the process by which this malware operates, and in order to protect millions of Nigerian telecoms consumers and prevent criminal forces, irrespective of location, from using telecoms platforms to perpetrate fraud and irredeemable damage, the NCC hereby wishes to reiterate the advisory of ngCERT as follows:

  1. Do not click on the link if you receive a suspicious text message, and do not install any app or security update the page asks you to install.
  2. Use updated antivirus software that detects and prevents malware infections.
  3. Apply critical patches to the system and application.
  4. Use strong passwords and enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) over logins.
  5. Back-up your data regularly.
  6. If you have been affected by this campaign, you should reset your device to factory mode as soon as possible. This will delete any data on your phone, including personal data.
  7. Do not restore from backups created after installing the app. You may contact ngCERT on incident@cert.gov.ng for technical assistance.
  8. You will also need to change the passwords to all of your online accounts, with urgency, around your online bank accounts.
  9. If you have concerns that your accounts may have been accessed by unauthorised people, contact your bank immediately.

As the Commission intensifies efforts in ensuring increased broadband access, enabling telecoms consumers to carry out their legitimate activities more efficiently and effectively online, the NCC also restates its commitment to empowering consumers through useful information and education to protect them from falling victim to cyberattacks on the Internet.

“This explains the rationale for the launch of telecoms sector’s Centre for Computer Security Incident Response by NCC on 30th September, 2021,” the statement added.