British security software and hardware company Sophos has recently revealed that new variants of Android spyware used by the C-23 group are actively targeting users in the Middle East.
C-23, also known as GnatSpy, FrozenCell, or VAMP, is what cybersecurity professionals refer to as an advanced persistent threat (APT) adversary. Such adversaries are typically well-funded and well-organized, which allows them to quickly evolve their tactics to overcome even the most sophisticated cybersecurity defenses.
The C-23 adversary has been known for targeting individuals in the Middle East since at least 2017, with a particular focus on the Palestinian territories.
The latest variants of its Android spyware are most likely distributed via a download link sent to victims as text messages. The link leads to a malicious app that pretends to install legitimate updates on the victim’s mobile device. When the app is launched for the first time, it requests a number of permissions that let it spy on the victim. It then disguises itself to make removal more difficult.
“The new variants use more, and more varied, disguises than previous versions, hiding behind popular app icons such as Chrome, Google, Google Play, YouTube, or the BOTIM voice-over-IP service” explain Sophos. “If targets click a fraudulent icon, the spyware launches the legitimate version of the app, while maintaining surveillance in the background”.
The information the new spyware can steal includes everything from text messages to the names of installed apps to contacts from all kinds of apps, including Facebook and WhatsApp. The spyware can even dismiss notifications and toggle “Do Not Disturb” settings.
Sophos recommends Android users to never install apps from untrusted sources and avoid ignoring available OS and app updates. The company’s own mobile antivirus app, called Sophos Intercept X for Mobile, can detect the new spyware as well as all kinds of other malicious software.
World’s Largest Metaverse Developer Opens Dubai Office
LandVault, the largest metaverse creator, is expanding its presence into the MENA region.
LandVault, the world’s largest metaverse developer, will expand operations to Dubai later this month as part of an ongoing strategy to boost its presence in the MENA region. The company aims to help local businesses gain a foothold in the expanding web 3.0 universe and sees exciting opportunities to bolster its client portfolio.
So far, metaverse developer LandVault has lived up to its name, creating and curating over 100 square feet of virtual space for a diverse range of organizations, including the nearby Yas Marina Circuit, Aldar, Mastercard, Standard Chartered, World of Women, Hershey’s, and many more.
The Dubai government’s Metaverse Strategy is one of the key reasons LandVault has been inspired to move to the region, as leaders plan to transform the Emirate into one of the world’s top 10 metaverse economies by 2030. Eventually, it’s hoped that in excess of 1,000 companies in the blockchain and web 3.0 spaces will be inspired to set up entities in the region, creating around 40,000 new jobs in the process.
“We are excited to open our office in Dubai and to be a part of the vibrant tech community in the UAE. The MENA region is a key market for us, and we believe that our presence in Dubai will allow us to assist the region and explore new opportunities. We are also excited about the potential for the metaverse in the real estate industry in the UAE. We look forward to working with developers and real estate companies to showcase their properties in a new and innovative way,” says Sam Huber, CEO of LandVault.
Alongside developing the metaverse from its new Dubai office, LandVault will also deploy its technology to assist the UAE’s real estate sector. Developers will soon be able to showcase their projects in a way that was never previously possible, reaching a much wider audience with immersive and interactive property tours and even virtual showrooms.