Fake Signal and Telegram Ads Lead to Info Stealer Malware
Cybercriminals used Google Ads to lure people trying to download messaging apps in to taking a malware download instead. The attackers use legitimate looking advertisements and spoofed landing pages to trick people into downloading and installing RedLine malware.
RedLine is a Russian malware that steals passwords and payment card information from infected devices.
In January 2021 Facebook owned WhatsApp updated its terms of service. Facebook announced that it will be using the contents of messages to sell advertisements on WhatsApp. The change in service was not received well by WhatsApp users. Millions of people considered this a massive privacy violation for an app that claims to offer end-to-end encryption.
As a result of the terms of service change, encrypted messaging apps Signal and Telegram both saw a massive increase in the numbers of new users as people fled to find a replacement for WhatsApp.
Encrypted messaging app Signal gained 10 million users across the world. At first, Signal wasn’t even able to keep up with the deluge of new user sign-ups and installations.
Even better, encrypted messaging app Telegram gained 25 million new users after WhatsApp updated its terms of service.
“Using the fake Signal page, this malicious campaign’s objective is to socially engineer victims into downloading and executing Redline Stealer,” eSentire reports.
Both Signal and Telegram offer end to end encryption. I use both apps on my phone. Signal is a lot more popular in the United States. Whereas is Telegram is popular throughout Europe in Asia.
Fake Signal App Advertisement
Cybercriminals used fake Google advertisements to trick new Signal messaging app users into downloading harmful malware. If someone was fooled and clicked on the advertisement, they were redirected to a fake Signal App download page. The spoof web page was designed to look just like the official Signal site. The page prompted the user to click on a button to begin downloading signal app to their device.
The spoofed Signal App webpage uses signal branding and wording to trick the reader into thinking it’s real. Often these can be extremely hard to detect. A quality anti-malware app can help detect spoofed web pages and malicious links on websites.
Spoofed Telegram Download
Spoof telegram messaging app ad and downloader work much the same as the fake Signal App scheme. The attackers used fake Google ads to redirect users to a fake Telegram App download page.
Instead of downloading the legitimate Telegram messaging app, if the user was fooled by the fake landing page they downloaded and installed malware that steals information from their device.
Antivirus apps sync across all your electronic devices. They help detect and stop malicious links and websites and can prevent you from downloading harmful computer code.
RedLine Stealer Malware
RedLine malware has been around since 2020. It has a lite and pro version selling for $150 and $200, respectively.
RedLine Malware Steals:
- Login credentials from web browsers
- Payment cards numbers
RedLine also steals information from the infected device including username, location, hardware configuration, and installed security software.
How to Protect Your Phone and Computer from RedLine Malware
Both campaigns attempt to convince the reader that they are visiting a legitimate Signal or Telegram download page. Instead of receiving the messaging app installer users are downloading malware that spies on their private information, messages, photos, and videos.
- Be cautious of links that you click on, even if they are in legitimate looking advertisements
- Always inspect the URL of any website you visit to carefully to make sure it is legitimate
- Use an anti-malware app to detect and block harmful websites and malicious computer viruses, malware, and ransomware.