Feeds

Japanese police bust poker-playing IT boss for Android malware

Infected apps targetted the terminally stupid

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Police in the Chiba Prefectural zone of Japan have arrested nine people suspected of making nearly $4m by distributing malware that harvested mobile user's contact information and using it for a fake dating website.

The arrests came after a joint operation between the police and Symantec, and the security company reports that the possible ringleader of the group is Masaaki Kagawa, president of IT firm Koei Planning and a semi-professional poker player who has netted over $1.5m in winnings from tournament play over in the last six years.

Since 2007 he's competed in a variety of games on the international poker circuit in London, Las Vegas, Monte Carlo, and Australia, with some success and the occasional massive loss. If convicted, however, Kagawa won't be playing high-stakes poker for some time to come.

Kagawa and his associates are accused of using a wide variety of applications to spread the Android malware, Enesoluty, across third-party Android apps forums via 150 hosted domains. The malware harvested the email addresses of its victims, and it seems these were used to drive traffic to a phony dating website.

Those who signed up for the dating site would be bombarded by messages from "people" wanting to talk with them, at the price of conversation tokens. A few people with multiple personas would encourage ever-longer conversations with no chance of meeting a flesh-and-blood date.

"The mobile malware was just a step towards his real scheme which was to send out spam about his dating site and get people to sign up over there and not really get any service," Vikram Thakur, principal research manager at Symantec Security Response, told The Register.

"By getting signups is where he made his money, but that's not to say that he didn't also sell the contact information on to spammers and the like," Thakur said.

From the looks of some of the applications the malware distributors were pushing, they will have scooped the dumbest of users, so the email lists would have been perfect for psychics and pitchers of other such wondrous illogicalities.

One application promised to turn the screen of the smartphone into a solar cell that would charge up the handset, while another app let users jiggle the breasts of a cartoon figure. In all cases, the infected application asked for contact details, despite there being no logical need for such data.

"There's a sucker born every minute," the American scammer PT Barnam is reported to have said – and based on the gang's results he was right. These lamentable apps harvested 37 million email addresses from around 810,000 Android devices.

Researchers at Symantec started picking up infections from Enesoluty in September last year and began analyzing the code. Thakur said it became clear that the malware didn't come from one of the many automatic malware generating kits available online, but was being written specifically by a group of programmers to harvest contact details.

Further examination of the code showed details of where the purloined contact details were being routed through, and Symantec contacted the local police to see if the culprits could be caught. Thakur said the local police were "very switched-on" when it comes to this kind of crime. Maybe US investigators could get some tips from them. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.