Researchers Discover Sneaky Android Malware That Spreads Through WhatsApp

hero researchers discover android malware that can spread through a victims whatsapp app
Contrary to some beliefs, mobile devices are vulnerable to malware, such as recent spyware that was posing as an Android system update. Today, researchers have disclosed a new piece of mobile malware that hides in a fake application and is spreading itself through WhatsApp. This is just the latest reminder that people need to be more careful about the links they click and the apps they download on any device.

The fake application, called “FlixOnline,” was discovered in the Google Play store by researchers at Check Point Research. It was found that if any user downloaded the app and granted the requested permissions, the malware then automatically replies to a victim’s WhatsApp and attempts to phish people into downloading the app.

researchers discover android malware that can spread through a victims whatsapp app
App Image Courtesy Of Checkpoint Research

Realistically, the people behind this app could have it do just about anything they want as it uses content received from a remote command and control center. As the Checkpoint researchers explain, the possible malicious activities include stealing user data, spreading fake or malicious messages, and extortion by threatening to send sensitive data to WhatsApp contacts.

Since the researchers found the malware and responsibly notified Google, the app has been removed, but not before nearly 500 people downloaded it. Though that may not represent a massive impact, this wormable app “features innovative and dangerous new techniques for spreading itself, and for manipulating or stealing data from trusted applications such as WhatsApp.” Thus, as we explained, users need to be certain of what they are clicking on and not download any apps that seem out of place.