On November 30, 2022, a Google apvi report from Łukasz Siewierski initially filed on November 11, 2022 was made public. The report contained 10 different platform certificates and malware sample SHA256 sums where the malware sample had been signed by a platform certificate — the application signing certificate used to sign the “Android” application on the system image. Applications signed with platform certificates can therefore run with the same level of privileges as the “Android” application, yielding system privileges on the operating system without user input. Google has recommended that affected parties should rotate their platform certificate. However, platform certificates are considered very sensitive, and the source of these certificates is unknown at this time.
Impact and Remediation
This use of platform certificates to sign malware indicates that a sophisticated adversary has gained privileged access to very sensitive code signing certificates. Any application signed by these certificates could gain complete control over the victim device. Rapid7 does not have any information that would indicate a particular threat actor group as being responsible, but historically, these types of techniques have been preferred by state-sponsored actors. That said, a triage-level analysis of the malicious applications reported shows that the signed applications are adware — a malware type generally considered less sophisticated. This finding suggests that these platform certificates may have been widely available, as state-sponsored actors tend to be more subtle in their approach to highly privileged malware.
We note that although these platform certificates are very sensitive, the over-the-air update certificates are different, and so these cannot be used to push malicious updates.
In cases where the malware can be detected on user devices, it should be remediated immediately. The Google apvi report contains the relevant hashes and we have a ..
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