Android users urgently warned over Google Chrome bug that 'empties bank accounts'

Android phone owners who use Google Chrome as their main browser are being warned of a serious virus doing the rounds that can drain bank accounts.

Cyber security experts have sounded the alarm after uncovering a new form of malware that gives hackers the ability to take over infected devices. Users are being urged to watch out for a fake browser update which secretly installs the bug to devices on Androids.

According to the professionals at ThreatFabric, who uncovered the threat known as Brokewell, the "modern banking" malware is equipped with both data-stealing and remote-control capabilities. The find highlights the increasing popularity of this kind of web bug in the cyber crime world.

Real Google Chrome update and fake Google Chrome update
Experts have shared signs of the fake Google Chrome update -Credit:ThreatFabric

When installing the malware, victims are presented with an update request, which is actually designed to download an Android application. At first glance, it appears harmless, but analysis found that the downloaded application is actually the previously missed malware family.

As well as spotting a fake Google Chrome update, experts found the malware was also used in conjunction with Klarna - a popular "buy now, pay later" financial service - and an Austrian digital authentication application.

Brokewell can reportedly capture every move made on a device, from touches to swipes, displayed information and opening of applications. These actions are then logged and sent to the commanding server, effectively stealing any confidential data displayed or entered on the compromised device.

A spyware function collects information about the device including call history, its geolocation and even records audio. Once this is complete, hackers can initiate a "device takeover" attack using remote controls, allowing them to use the phone remotely.

With the logged data and full control, victims are open to their online banking accounts being easily accessed by criminals, allowing them to make their own transactions.

ThreatFabric said on its website last week: "The discovery of a new malware family, Brokewell, which implements Device Takeover capabilities from scratch, highlights the ongoing demand for such capabilities among cyber criminals. These actors require this functionality to commit fraud directly on victims' devices, creating a significant challenge for fraud detection tools that heavily rely on device identification or device fingerprinting."

How to spot a fake mobile application that is actually malware

In this photo illustration, the logos of the applications, Google Maps, Google and Gmail are displayed on the screen of a tablet
The new malware has been spotted on popular apps like Google Chrome -Credit:Getty Images Europe

As Brokewell has been very recently discovered, experts are still working to find a solution to the latest cyber crime tool. However, there are ways that you can check to see whether an application listed on Google Play store for Android is real is real or fake.

According to MCP Insight, users should do the following before downloading a new application:

  • Check the app’s permissions

  • Look at the app’s reviews

  • Check the number of installs

  • Check the app’s age

  • Check the app’s developer

  • Look for spelling red flags in the app description

  • Check the app’s developer email

  • Inspect the app’s code

  • Check the app’s website

  • Utilise additional mobile security apps

  • Be vigilant of apps that ask for sensitive information

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