The RAT we should beware of!
In Chinese astrology, each year is related to a Chinese zodiac animal according to a 12-year cycle. Those who were born in the years 2020, 2008, 1996, and backwards are known as Rats. People born in these years are said to be optimistic and likeable.
However, in cybersecurity, RAT (Remote Access Trojan) stands for the polar opposite of likeable: a nasty tool used by bad actors. For many years, RATs have been used to remotely and covertly control victims’ computers. The cunning RAT can gain access to computer users’ files and hardware resources such as webcams and microphones, as well as act as a keylogger, data stealer, and launchpad for other malware attacks. Worse, the use of RATs in enterprise-level attacks is on the rise.
In this blog, one of our Sankians – Shubham Dhumal, a Solution Analyst will discuss the impact of this malware…
“As a tech enthusiast, I often receive requests for assistance with device-related issues. One such instance was when a relative approached me with a smartphone behaving erratically. The phone was automatically sending SMS messages, installing apps without permission, and opening undesirable websites on the browser, among other issues.
To troubleshoot the issue, I began investigating the device’s settings, paying close attention to any third-party apps with permissions that may be causing the problem. After some time, I concluded that the most effective solution would be to format the device. However, deep down, I knew that this was not merely an OS issue or a bug in an application; there was something else at play.
To address any lingering doubts and conduct a final check before formatting the device, I decided to install antivirus software from the Play Store. After installing the software, I initiated a scan of the device, and within a few minutes, the screen turned red and displayed a list of compromised applications. The antivirus software efficiently cleared and uninstalled all the compromised applications.
After completing this process, I asked my relative to use the device for a few days and report any similar issues. It is essential to ensure that the problem is resolved completely and that there are no traces of any malware or other malicious elements left on the device. Taking such measures can prevent the recurrence of similar problems and ensure the device’s optimal performance.
Out of curiosity, I searched for some of the listed malware during the scanning process and noticed that some of the listed malwares were Remote Access Trojans (RATs). Intrigued by this discovery, I delved deeper into the subject and learned that these malicious programs can enable hackers to gain full access to one’s phone. RATs can read and send text messages, access contact lists and call logs, record audio, and video, and even track the device’s location.
It was clear to me that having such malware on a device is a significant threat to personal, financial, and professional security. RATs cannot be installed or accessed directly, and usually require a host to execute the attack. Given the increasing sophistication of cybersecurity threats, it is crucial to take proactive measures to safeguard one’s devices and data from malicious attacks.
I asked my relative further to understand the reason behind the installation of such applications. He downloaded APK files from unauthorized websites and stores on the internet. His rationale for resorting to these sources was that they provided access to more advanced features and removed the limitations imposed by the original applications. It was then that I began to realize how these tactics work.
Essentially, attackers gain access to the original application files and modify them using specialized tools to unlock new features and offers, which are typically available for a fee. These modified applications are then distributed to unknown sources, tempting users with the alluring prospect of accessing these advanced features for free. It may sound like an attractive proposition, but it comes at a significant cost: the security and integrity of one’s device and data.
But there’s always another side of the coin worth talking about. There is another aspect to consider as to why someone would modify an application in this way. Modifying an application is an easy task, and it’s not much time-consuming at present. In some cases, attackers modify the application code and add a malicious piece of code, which acts as a host for executing malicious activities. This code can exploit the permissions granted by the user to the host application and gain access to sensitive data or other functionalities of the device.
Therefore, it is essential to exercise caution while downloading and installing applications, especially from unknown or unverified sources. Such practices can pose a significant risk to the security and privacy of one’s device and data. It is recommended to stick to trusted sources and official app stores for downloading applications, and regularly update the device’s operating system and security software to stay protected from potential threats.
The damage inflicted by a RAT can be severe, with significant impacts on personal, financial, and professional fronts. The attacker can steal sensitive information, compromise financial transactions, and breach confidential data, among other things. It is crucial to take preventative measures to avoid RAT attacks, such as avoiding suspicious websites and sources, maintaining updated security software, and regularly scanning devices for malware.
In addition to conventional data security practices, it is crucial to avoid utilizing cracked software and instead purchase authorized versions exclusively. Opting for authorized versions instead of free, cracked versions is a wise investment as the latter may result in several multifaceted payments. It is strongly advised to refrain from downloading applications from unverified resources and to exercise caution when utilizing unauthorized or modified versions of applications. It is vital to prioritize data security by taking such precautionary measures.”
In conclusion, the safety of our data is of utmost importance in today’s digital world. As individuals, we must prioritize cybersecurity practices to ensure that our sensitive information is protected from potential threats. Along with standard security measures, such as strong passwords and two-factor authentication, avoiding the use of cracked software and only purchasing authorized versions can significantly reduce the risk of a data breach. It is vital to stay vigilant and informed about potential threats to our data and take appropriate steps to mitigate them. By adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity, we can ensure the safety and privacy of our data, and consequently, safeguard our digital lives.