MisoSMS: New Android Malware Disguises Itself as a Settings App, Steals SMS Messages

FireEye has uncovered and helped weaken one of the largest advanced
mobile botnets to date. The botnet, which we are dubbing “MisoSMS,”
has been used in at least 64 spyware campaigns, stealing text messages
and emailing them to cybercriminals in China.

MisoSMS infects Android systems by deploying a class of malicious
Android apps. The mobile malware masquerades as an Android settings
app used for administrative tasks. When executed, it secretly steals
the user’s personal SMS messages and emails them to a
command-and-control (CnC) infrastructure hosted in China. FireEye
Mobile Threat Prevention platform detects this class of malware as “Android.Spyware.MisoSMS.”

Here are some highlights of MisoSMS:

  • We discovered 64 mobile botnet campaigns
    that belong to the MisoSMS malware family.
  • Each of the
    campaigns leverage Web mail as its (CnC) infrastructure.
  • The CnC infrastructure comprises more than 450 unique malicious
    email accounts.
  • FireEye has been working with the community
    to take down the CnC infrastructure.
  • The majority of the
    devices infected are in Korea, which leads us to believe that this
    threat is active and prevalent in that region.
  • The
    attackers logged in from Korea and mainland China, among other
    locations, to periodically read the stolen SMS messages.

MisoSMS is active and widespread in Korea, and we are working with
Korean law enforcement and the Chinese Web mail vendor to mitigate
this threat. This threat highlights the need for greater cross-country
and cross-organizational efforts to take down large malicious campaigns.

At the time of of this blog post, all of the reported malicious
email accounts have been deactivated and we have not noticed any new
email addresses getting registered by the attacker. FireEye Labs will
closely monitor this threat and continue working with relevant
authorities to mitigate it.

Technical Analysis

Once the app is installed, it presents itself as “Google Vx.” It
asks for administrative permissions on the device, which enables the
malware to hide itself from the user, as shown in Figure 2.


The message in Figure 3 translates to the following:

“This service is vaccine killer nCopyright (c) 2013 google.org”


Once the user grants administrator privileges to the app, the app
shows the message in Figure 3, which translates to “The file is
damaged and can’t use. Please check it on the website”” and an
OK button. Then is asks the user to confirm deletion,
ostensibly offering the option to Confirm or Cancel. If
the user taps Confirm, the app sleeps for 800 milliseconds then
displays a message that says “Remove Complete.” If the users taps
Cancel, the app still displays the “Remove Complete” message.

In either case, the following API call is made to hide the app from
the user.



MainActivity.this.getComponentName(), 2, 1);

This application exfiltrates the SMS messages in a unique way. Some SMS-stealing malware sends the contents of users SMS messages by forwarding the messages over SMS to phone numbers under the attacker’s control. Others send the stolen SMS messages to a CnC server over TCP connections. This malicious app, by contrast, sends the stolen SMS messages to the attacker's email address over an SMTP connection. Most of the MisoSMS-based apps we discovered had no or very few vendor detections on VirusTotal.

The app initially sends an email with the phone number of the
target’s device in the message body. This is shown in the screenshot
capture below.



The malicious app creates a database called “soft_data” at install
time. It also creates a database table by executing the SQL query below.

TABLE IF NOT EXISTS ulccd(id varchar(50),sender varchar(50),date
varchar(20),content varchar(500))”);

The application registers a service for the SMS_RECEIVED intent.
Once it receives the intent, the app invokes a call to the
com.mlc.googlevx.SinRecv.onGetMsg() method. The moment a
MisoSMS-infected device receives an SMS, the method extracts the
contents of that SMS and creates the key-value pairs as follows:

this.val$str1);              // Phone number of the sender of the SMS

this.val$str2);             // Content of the SMS message

this.val$str3);                // Date of the SMS

“1”);                            // Hardcoded identifier

xdataStruct.id);                // Device ID

“Add”);                          // Operation to be
performed “Add” indicates SMS to be added

xdataStruct.selfnum);  // Phone number of the infected user

The above data is recorded and an email message is sent out with the
subject line set to the phone number of the infected device. The body
of the email message contains the phone number of the device that sent
a message to the infected device and its contents. Figure 6 below
shows a packet capture of this data as it is sent.


If the sending of the email fails, it logs the SMS messages in the
soft_data database.

The application also starts three services in the background once
the app is installed and started: RollService,
MisoService, and BaseService.


This service initiates a sleep call for the first five minutes of
execution. Once the sleep call is complete, RollService polls
the soft_data database and tries to send any SMS data that failed to
send earlier. Once it sends the information successfully,
RollService deletes that data from the soft_data database.


Once started, MisoService spawns a thread in the background.
This thread is responsible for replaying information to the CnC
channel. Messages are replayed using data structures that are
converted into byte streams. The components of those structures are
shown below:

Replay Structure:


public final int Request_BookInfo_len = 70;


public final int
Request_Head_Len = 95;

public final int
Request_RecPhoneInfo_Len = 8;

Vector<RequestStruct_BookInfo> book_list = new Vector(); contains

              public String
book_name = “”;

public String book_num = “”;

public RequestStruct_Head
data_head = new RequestStruct_Head(); contains

              public String
android_id = “”;

              public int
book_count = 0;

public short client_version = 1;

public byte is_back_door = 0;

public String os_version = “”;

public short phone_book_state
= 0;

public String phone_model = “”;

public String phone_num = “”;

public short
sms_rec_phone_count = 0;

public int sms_task_id = 0;

Vector<RequestStruct_RecPhoneInfo> rec_phone_list = new
Vector(); contains

              public int
reccode = 0;  public int recphoneid = 0;

Request Structure:

public final int
Replay_Head_Len = 583;

public final int
Replay_NewAddr_Len = 261;

public final int
Replay_RecPhone_len = 24;

public ReplayStruct_Head
data_head = new ReplayStruct_Head(); contains

            public byte
is_send_book = 0;

public byte
is_uninstall_backdoor = 0;

public byte is_upbook = 0;

public byte is_update = 0;

public String last_client_url
= “”;

public short
last_client_url_len = 0;

public short
last_client_version = 1;

public short new_addr_count = 0;

public short reconn_deply = 300;

public String sms_task_content
= “”;

public int sms_task_id = 0;

public short
sms_task_rec_phone_count = 0;

Vector<ReplayStruct_NewAddrInfo> new_addr_list = new Vector(); contains

            public short
new_addr_len = 0;

public int new_addr_port = 8080;

public String new_addr_url = “”;

public Vector<ReplayStruct_RecPhoneInfo> rec_phone_list = new Vector(); contains


            public int
rec_phone_id = 0;

public String rec_phone_num = “”;

Once MisoService is initiated, it checks whether the phone is
connected to the Internet and the cellular network. If so, it sends a
byte array formed by the request data structure shown above. It then
makes a copy of data from the request structure into the replay
structure and sends the byte array of the request structure via SMS.

The phone number for this SMS is not specified in the code, so these
messages are not sent for the time being. But all of this information
is logged into the soft_data database, and an update to the app will
send the SMS and the above-mentioned data. MisoService also
uses an embedded source object called libmisoproto.so to
perform socket connections to the SMTP server using Java Native
Interfaces. This shared object is unique to this malware family, which
is  why we named this malware Android.Spyware.MisoSMS.

Here is an excerpt of the code for the MisoService:



static {







static byte[] access$1(byte[]
arg1) {

        return MisoService.jndkAction(arg1);





private static native byte[]
jndkAction(byte[] arg0) {




public void onCreate() {



new Thread() {

public void run() {



while(true) {

if((BaseSystem.isNetworkAvailable(MisoService.this.context)) &&


                                    (BaseSystem.isPhoneAvailable(MisoService.this.context))) {


if(BaseSystem.android_id.equals(“”)) {




= BaseSystem.android_id;

MisoData.request_data.data_head.phone_model = BaseSystem.phone_model;

MisoData.request_data.data_head.os_version = BaseSystem.os_version;

MisoData.request_data.data_head.phone_num = BaseSystem.phone_num;

byte[] v0 =
MisoService.jndkAction(NetDataCover.RequestToBytes(MisoData.request_data ));


if(v0 != null) {


MisoData.replay_data = NetDataCover.BytesToReplay(v0);



if(MisoData.replay_data.data_head.sms_task_rec_phone_count != 0) {



* 100 )));








The value for MisoData.replay_data.data_head.reconn_deply is
set to 300, putting the service to sleep for 30 seconds between retries.


The base service ensures that RollService and
MisoService do not stop running. The BaseBootReceiver
class also uses BaseService to start the other two service if
the device reboots.

Intent(BaseService.this.context, RollService.class));

Intent(BaseService.this.context, MisoService.class));


MisoSMS is one of the largest mobile botnets that leverages modern
botnet techniques and infrastructure. This discovery, coupled with the
other discoveries from FireEye, highlights the importance of mobile
security and the quickly changing threat landscape.

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