Researchers from Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) have warned that sophisticated PREDATOR spyware has been targeting Android smartphones in a number of countries around the globe.
Google’s secret report suggests that the spyware is developed by a company called Cytrox, a North Macedonian corporation based in Skopje. The Predator spyware is capable of recording audio, hiding apps, adding CA certificates, and whatnot.
Google Warns Android Users about Cytrox (Predator) & ALIEN
This predator spyware Cytrox is distributed via email which allegedly contains a one-time URL shortener link. Once the victim clicks on the link, is redirected to a website that is owned by the attacker that will deliver another payload called ALIEN.
ALIEN and Predator (Cytrox)
After that, the victim is redirected to the legitimate site to minimize any suspicions. ALIEN that is already deployed on the victim’s smartphone will load PREDATOR in the background and will be ready to receive command over IPC.
Google’s TAG team says: This is the technique that is generally used against journalists for audio recordings.
In this case, as the specific targets are not clear, the researchers have found this dangerous spyware is backed by government entities in Egypt, Armenia, Greece, Madagascar, Serbia, Ivory Coast, Spain, and Indonesia.
These findings have once again made companies like NSO Group come into the limelight as the commercial entities are developing legitimate spyware to spy on people around the globe. NSO Group and similar companies are developing powerful malware and selling them to the government/ commercial entities which later claim they use it for fighting against terrorism and other national threats.
And yet security companies have found that these tools have been used many times against journalists, political activists, the opposition, whistleblowers, close family members of high-ranking officials, etc.
Due to all these issues, many privacy and human rights activists demand these Spywares terminations in countries and it has banned NSO Group products in the United States.