A global cybercriminal operation known as BadBox has targeted more than 70,000 Android smartphones, CTV boxes, and tablets, injecting them with the Triada malware through supply chain compromise. Human Security, a cybersecurity vendor, uncovered this scheme, revealing that devices from a Chinese manufacturer had backdoored firmware inserted before reaching resellers and retailers.
Notably, these compromised products were found on public school networks across the United States. Triada, discovered in 2016, is a modular trojan that resides in a device’s RAM, leveraging root privileges to alter system files and perform various malicious activities.
The BadBox operation allowed threat actors to execute ad-fraud schemes, including the PeachPit campaign, which infected a vast number of Android and iOS devices and relied on numerous apps to connect to a fake supply-side platform.
Additionally, BadBox featured modules that created hidden WebViews for ad manipulation and introduced a residential proxy module, enabling access to victims’ networks for sale. The attackers could also create WhatsApp and Gmail accounts for further malicious activities. One alarming aspect was the backdoor’s ability to remotely install new apps or code without the device owner’s consent, potentially paving the way for future schemes.
Human Security successfully disrupted the PeachPit ad fraud scheme, prompting BadBox operators to take down their command-and-control servers, presumably to adjust and evade defensive measures. Importantly, users cannot clean BadBox-infected devices themselves, as the backdoor is located in the firmware partition. Most affected devices are low-cost, prompting a recommendation for users to opt for trusted brands when making new product purchases.