Security News > 2023 > May > Predator Android Spyware: Researchers Uncover New Data Theft Capabilities

Predator Android Spyware: Researchers Uncover New Data Theft Capabilities
2023-05-26 12:39

Security researchers have shared a deep dive into the commercial Android spyware called Predator, which is marketed by the Israeli company Intellexa.

"A deep dive into both spyware components indicates that Alien is more than just a loader for Predator and actively sets up the low-level capabilities needed for Predator to spy on its victims," Cisco Talos said in a technical report.

Spyware like Predator and NSO Group's Pegasus are carefully delivered as part of highly-targeted attacks by weaponizing what are called zero-click exploit chains that typically require no interaction from the victims and allow for code execution and privilege escalation.

Both Predator and Alien are designed to get around security guardrails in Android, with the latter loaded into a core Android process called Zygote to download and launch other spyware modules, counting Predator, from an external server.

"Alien is not just a loader but also an executor - its multiple threads will keep reading commands coming from Predator and executing them, providing the spyware with the means to bypass some of the Android framework security features," the company said.

"This is the first documented evidence of the use of Pegasus spyware in an international war context," Access Now said, adding it began an investigation after Apple sent notifications to the individuals in question that they may have been a victim of state-sponsored spyware attacks in November 2021.

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