NCC Alerts Nigerians to Deadly FluBot Malware Targeting Bank Accounts

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Friday raised the alarm about what it described as an extremely damaging malware called “FluBot” which attacks Android mobile banking applications.

According to the NCC, Flubot “impersonates Android mobile banking applications to draw fake web view on targeted applications and its goal transcends stealing personal data and essentially targets stealing of credit card details or online banking credentials.”

Malware is a generic word used to describe a virus or software designed specifically to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorised access to a computer system.

“According to the information received today (Thursday), October 21, 2021, from the Nigeria Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT), Flubot targets Androids with fake security updates and App installations,” NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Ikechukwu Adinde, said in a statement issued yesterday.

NCC explained that FluBot “is circulated through SMS and can snoop on incoming notifications, initiate calls, read or write SMSes, and transmit the victim’s contact list to its control centre.”

NCC said the 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 to maintain continuous presence on devices.

The statement adds: “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.

“Consequently, it secures admittance into the 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.

“It suffices to say that, 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 subsequently issued an advisory to protect telecoms consumers from falling victim.

The guidelines listed by the commission are: “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; use updated antivirus software that detects and prevents malware infections; apply critical patches to the system and application; use strong passwords and enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) over logins and back up your data regularly.”

Others are: “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; do not restore from backups created after installing the app; you will also need to change the passwords to all of your online accounts, with urgency, around your online bank accounts; If you have concerns that your accounts may have been accessed by unauthorised people, contact your bank immediately.”

Emma Okonji

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