Huge Ad Scam Botnet PEACHPIT Using Millions of Compromised Android and iOS Devices

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Botnet PEACHPIT

The PEACHPIT ad fraud botnet used a vast network of Android and iOS devices, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, in order to earn illicit profits for the individuals responsible for orchestrating this fraudulent operation.

The botnet is a component of a broader operation known as BADBOX, originating from China. This operation involves the distribution of unbranded mobile and connected TV (CTV) devices through well-known online merchants and resale platforms. These devices have been compromised with a strain of Android malware dubbed Triada.

According to HUMAN, the PEACHPIT botnet’s collection of interconnected applications was detected throughout 227 countries and territories. It reached its highest estimated daily activity on Android smartphones, with around 121,000 devices, and on iOS devices, with approximately 159,000 devices.

The viruses are purported to have been acquired via a compilation of 39 applications that were downloaded and installed over 15 million times. The utilization of malware-infected devices enabled the operators to illicitly acquire confidential information, establish residential proxy exit peers, and engage in fraudulent activities such as ad fraud via deceptive applications.

The precise method by which Android devices are infiltrated with a firmware backdoor remains uncertain at present. However, available information strongly suggests the involvement of a hardware supply chain attack.

According to the business, threat actors have the ability to utilize compromised devices to illicitly generate WhatsApp messaging accounts by extracting one-time passwords from these devices.

Moreover, threat actors possess the capability to utilize these devices for the purpose of generating Gmail accounts. This allows them to bypass conventional bot detection mechanisms, as the account appears to have been established from a standard tablet or smartphone, mimicking the actions of a genuine individual.

The initial documentation of the criminal business was conducted by Trend Micro in May 2023, with the attribution of its activities being assigned to an enemy known as Lemon Group, as monitored by the organization.

According to HUMAN, a minimum of 200 unique varieties of Android devices, encompassing mobile phones, tablets, and CTV goods, have displayed indications of BADBOX infection, implying the presence of a pervasive undertaking.

One noteworthy characteristic of ad fraud is the utilization of counterfeit applications for Android and iOS platforms, which are distributed through prominent software marketplaces like the Apple software Store and Google Play Store. Additionally, these fraudulent apps are also automatically downloaded into compromised BADBOX devices.

Embedded within Android applications is a module that is tasked with generating concealed WebViews. These WebViews are subsequently employed to solicit, display, and interact with advertisements while disguising the ad requests as originating from authentic applications. This methodology bears resemblance to the tactics previously identified in the instance of VASTFLUX.

The fraud protection company collaborated with Apple and Google to effectively intervene in the operation. It is important to acknowledge that the remaining portion of BADBOX is presently inactive, as the threat actors have successfully dismantled the C2 servers responsible for facilitating the BADBOX firmware backdoor infection.

Furthermore, a recent update released earlier this year has been discovered to eliminate the modules responsible for the functionality of PEACHPIT on machines infected with the BADBOX malware, in response to the implementation of mitigating measures in November 2022.

With that being stated, there is a suspicion that the attackers are modifying their strategies in an apparent effort to evade the defensive measures.

According to HUMAN, the situation is exacerbated by the operators’ deliberate efforts to remain undetected, indicating a heightened level of expertise on their part. It is possible for anyone to inadvertently purchase a counterfeit BADBOX device through internet channels, remaining unaware of its inauthenticity. Subsequently, upon connecting and activating the device, they mistakenly expose themselves to the risks associated with the backdoor virus it harbors.

and NASSCOM.  Naager entered the field of content in an unusual way.  He began his career as an insurance sales executive, where he developed an interest in simplifying difficult concepts.  He also combines this interest with a love of narrative, which makes him a good writer in the cybersecurity field.  In the bottom line, he frequently writes for Craw Security.

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About The Author:

Yogesh Naager is a content marketer who specializes in the cybersecurity and B2B space.  Besides writing for the News4Hackers blog, he’s also written for brands including CollegeDunia, Utsav Fashion, and NASSCOM.  Naager entered the field of content in an unusual way.  He began his career as an insurance sales executive, where he developed an interest in simplifying difficult concepts.  He also combines this interest with a love of narrative, which makes him a good writer in the cybersecurity field.  In the bottom line, he frequently writes for Craw Security.

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