The APT36 hacking group, also known as ‘Transparent Tribe’, has been identified using counterfeit Android applications resembling YouTube to distribute their custom remote access trojan (RAT) known as ‘CapraRAT.’
Once the malicious software is installed on a victim’s device, it functions as spyware, enabling data harvesting, audio and video recording, and access to sensitive communication data. APT36, a threat actor linked to Pakistan, has a history of utilizing deceptive Android apps to target Indian defense and government entities, as well as individuals involved in Kashmir region affairs and human rights activists in Pakistan.
The recent campaign, discovered by SentinelLabs, serves as a cautionary message to individuals and organizations engaged in military or diplomatic activities in India and Pakistan. It advises vigilance when encountering YouTube Android apps from unofficial sources, as the malicious APKs are distributed outside Google Play and require victims to be socially engineered into downloading and installing them.
Furthermore, these fake apps imitate Google’s YouTube but have notable limitations, utilizing WebView within the trojanized app, and lacking several genuine platform features. Once CapraRAT is operational on the victim’s device, it can conduct intrusive actions such as audio and video recording, message and call log collection, sending SMS messages, taking screenshots, and modifying device settings.
SentinelLabs also notes that the CapraRAT variants in this campaign exhibit enhancements compared to previously analyzed samples, indicating ongoing development by Transparent Tribe.
In conclusion, Transparent Tribe, represented by APT36, persists in its cyber espionage activities in India and Pakistan, utilizing its signature Android RAT while disguising it as YouTube, showcasing adaptability and evolution.
Despite the group’s weak operational security, which makes their campaigns and tools easily identifiable, their continuous release of new deceptive apps allows them to reach new potential victims consistently.