Feb 19 2024

First Ever IOS Trojan Steals Facial Recognition Data

Category: Trojandisc7 @ 9:53 am

A novel, very sophisticated mobile Trojan dubbed GoldPickaxe.iOS that targets iOS users exclusively was discovered to collect facial recognition data, intercept SMS, and gather identity documents.

The Asia-Pacific region includes the majority of those impacted by this harmful activity. On the other hand, two APAC countries that deserve particular consideration are Vietnam and Thailand.

The GoldPickaxe family, which comes in iOS and Android variants, is based on the GoldDigger Android Trojan (discovered in October 2023) and receives frequent modifications to improve its functionality and avoid detection. 

“To exploit the stolen biometric data from iOS and Android users, the threat actor creates deepfakes using AI face-swapping services to replace their faces with those of the victims. This method could be used by cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to victims’ bank accounts”, Group-IB researchers shared with Cyber Security News.

Timeline Of GoldFactory’s Trojans

Group-IB has linked the entire threat cluster to a single threat actor known as GoldFactory, which has created an advanced collection of mobile banking malware.

Timeline of GoldFactory’s Trojans
Timeline of GoldFactory’s Trojans

The traditional Android banking Trojan GoldDigger exploits Accessibility Service to provide hackers access to the device. Another Android malware that increases GoldDigger’s capability is called GoldDiggerPlus. 

GoldDiggerPlus features an embedded Trojan called GoldKefu, which contains web fakes and allows real-time voice conversations with victims. A Trojan called GoldPickaxe was created for the iOS and Android operating systems used to obtain and exfiltrate biometric data and personal information from victims.

GoldPickaxe.IOS Employs A Notable Distribution Scheme

Thai financial institutions extensively utilize facial recognition for login authentication and transaction verification. Because of this, GoldPickaxe’s facial recognition video capture and unique features give attackers the chance to access bank accounts without authorization.

GoldPickaxe Trojans extract money from victims’ devices
GoldPickaxe Trojans extract money from victims’ devices

Hackers are using their own Android smartphones to install banking apps, and they are exploiting the captured face scans to get over facial recognition security measures and gain unauthorized access to victims’ accounts.

Screenshots displaying how GoldPickaxe for Android captures a facial biometric profile
Screenshots displaying how GoldPickaxe for Android captures a facial biometric profile

Cybercriminals pose as government officials in Thailand and convince victims to utilize LINE, one of the nation’s most widely used chat services. The LINE user needs to add another as a friend to initiate a chat.

 “Malicious links are distributed through messengers to encourage the installation of the app. Victims are then lured into a fraudulent application posing as a ‘Digital Pension’ app, purportedly enabling them to receive their pension digitally”, according to Thailand Banking Sector CERT (TB-CERT).

Researchers noticed in one instance the CryptoRAM campaigns, in which fraudsters disseminated fake cryptocurrency applications by using Apple’s TestFlight platform. 

Another technique is manipulating Apple devices using Mobile Device Management (MDM). MDM is an all-inclusive and centralized approach to controlling and safeguarding mobile devices inside an organization, including tablets and smartphones.

Thus, a proactive and comprehensive strategy for cybersecurity must include user education and integrated current security techniques to proactively identify the introduction of new Trojans and alert end users.

Our Biometric Future: Facial Recognition Technology and the Culture of Surveillance (Critical Cultural Communication

Viruses, Hardware and Software Trojans: Attacks and Countermeasures

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Tags: Facial Recognition Data

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