More iOS and Android zero-days uncovered by Google, employed in spyware installations

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Tech News Summary:

  • Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) has uncovered exploit chains using zero-day and n-day vulnerabilities in Chrome, iOS, Android, and other platforms to install spyware and malicious programs on targeted devices. The attackers used two chains of vulnerabilities to target iOS and Android users, released a payload that allowed them to track the location of victims and install .IPA files on infected iOS devices, and eventually deployed a C++-based spyware suite for Android.
  • The risk of dangerous hacking tools proliferation is raised by these activities, implying that surveillance vendors are sharing exploits and methodologies. In addition, the attack chains used a large network of over 1000 malicious domains to spread the zero-day exploits and malware.
  • Google has been actively monitoring more than 30 vendors that provide surveillance tools or vulnerabilities to state-sponsored threat actors. Amnesty International’s Security Lab disclosed information about the domains and infrastructure used in the assaults, serving as a catalyst for the uncovering of these exploit chains, and Variston IT, a Spanish software company, has been linked to the Heliconia attack framework that targets vulnerabilities in Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Defender.

In a recent announcement, Google revealed that it has uncovered some new zero-days that were being used to distribute spyware on both iOS and Android devices. These vulnerabilities were being employed by certain malicious operators to gain unauthorized access to users’ devices, snooping on their private data, including messages, location, and other sensitive information.

The company’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) first detected these vulnerabilities in early 2021, but the group refrained from sharing the information until the holes had been patched. The research team found that attackers were using spear-phishing tactics to inject tailored spyware onto smartphones and tablets.

According to Google, the iOS zero-day was active from at least January 2021 to July 2021. The attackers, presumed to be Chinese operatives, sent links vis iMessage, displaying a user interface that looked like a benign social media post, which redirected users to websites hosting malicious code. By exploiting a vulnerability in Apple’s Webkit browser, the attackers could remotely execute the spyware and install it on the victim’s device.

The Android zero-day, on the other hand, was active for more than three years, from 2019 to 2021. Attackers exploited a vulnerability in the Google Play Store app that enabled them to modify a genuine Android app and inject malicious code without detection. Once installed, the spyware could steal sensitive data and communications from the device.

Google patched the vulnerabilities in the iOS and Android systems before the public disclosure of the attacks. Still, it is crucial to emphasize users’ role in cybersecurity by being vigilant in identifying and avoiding suspicious links or apps. The shock of discovering these zero-days has only made cybersecurity more of a priority, and Google continues to conduct extensive research and updates to prevent such incidents from occurring again.

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