Android emulator supply-chain attack targets gamers with malware

ESET researchers have discovered that the updating mechanism of NoxPlayer, an Android emulator for Windows and macOS, made by Hong Kong-based company BigNox, was compromised by an unknown threat actor and used to infect gamers with malware.

NoxPlayer is used by gamers from over 150 countries around the globe according to BigNox but, as ESET found in January 2021, the supply-chain attack was focused on infecting only Asian gamers with at least three different malware strains.

To deliver the malicious payload on their targets’ systems, the hacker group behind the operation dubbed NightScout compromised BigNox’s storage infrastructure to store the malware and the API infrastructure to deploy the payloads.

“We have sufficient evidence to state that BigNox’s infrastructure was compromised to host malware and also to suggest that their API infrastructure could have been compromised. In some cases, additional payloads were downloaded by the BigNox updater from attacker-controlled servers,” ESET researcher Ignacio Sanmillan said.

The malicious updates delivered through NoxPlayer’s compromised update mechanism included an unknown malware with monitoring capabilities and the extensively used Gh0st remote access trojan (RAT).

A third malware, the PoisonIvy RAT, was also discovered by ESET while investigating the supply-chain attack but this was delivered as a second-stage payload, from the attackers’ own infrastructure not by deploying malicious NoxPlayer updates.

Despite the vast amount of victims that could’ve been infected between September 2020 when the supply-chain attack started and January 2021 when it was discovered, the NightScout threat actor instead chose to infect five targets from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Sri Lanka, revealing this operation’s highly-targeted nature.

While ESET uncovered other supply-chain attacks last year, such as Operation StealthyTrident targeting Able Desktop users, WIZVERA VeraPort banking and government targets, and Operation SignSight which led to the compromise of Vietnamese government signing software, Nightscout it’s somewhat of a different beast.

This is because the Operation NightScout instead focused on gaming community targets, a somewhat peculiar and rarely seen way of collecting info in a highly targeted cyberespionage operation.

“To be on the safe side, in case of intrusion, perform a standard reinstall from clean media,” Sanmillan added.

“For uninfected NoxPlayer users, do not download any updates until BigNox sends notification that they have mitigated the threat, furthermore, best practice would be to uninstall the software.”

NOTE:: This article is copyright by and we are using it for educational or Information purpose only

The Best Internet & Mobile Security Suite of 2020 – 2021