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How to remove FluBot from an infected device

Also Known As: FluBot virus
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is FluBot?

FluBot is the name of malicious software that targets Android smartphones. Cybercriminals distribute FluBot via SMS messages, which they send (in at least in three different languages such as German, Polish, and Hungarian) with links to download websites for a fake FedEx application.

These websites download a malicious APK file (Android Package file) designed to install FluBot banking malware.

FluBot android malware

As mentioned, cybercriminals distribute FluBot via SMS messages. They send messages (in different languages) containing a fake shipment tracking website designed to download an APK file, which has similar appearance to the installer for the FedEx application.

During installation, the fake FedEx application (FluBot malicious application) asks for various permissions.

For example, to read contacts, write, read and send SMS messages, read the phone state, keep the device awake, create notifications and post them using startForeground feature, initiate phone calls without going through the Dialer user interface, delete packages, allow querying of any normal app installed on the device, and allow applications to open network sockets.

FluBot can receive commands via a Command and Control (C&C) server, including commands to uninstall applications, block the card, upload SMS messages, open URLs (website addresses), extract contact lists, disable Google Play Protect, and various other commands.

FluBot is banking malware targeting users in different countries. One way that the malware employs to steal sensitive data is to display windows asking to provide credit card details.

In this way, cybercriminals use FluBot to trick victims into providing sensitive information that could be used to steal identities, make fraudulent purchases and transactions, etc. They might also use it to extract other personal details such as, for example, login credentials (usernames, email addresses, passwords).

Threat Summary:
Name FluBot virus
Threat Type Android malware, malicious application, unwanted application.
Detection Names (fedex.apk) Avast-Mobile (Android:Evo-gen [Trj]), BitDefenderFalx (Android.Trojan.Banker.TW), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Android/TrojanDropper.Agent.HKE), Kaspersky (HEUR:Backdoor.AndroidOS.Polph.c), Full List (VirusTotal).
Related Domains cssincronbucuresti[.]ro, windjey[.]com, gispert[.]pt
Detection Names (cssincronbucuresti[.]ro) Fortinet (Phishing), PREBYTES (Malware), Full List (VirusTotal).
Detection Names (windjey[.]com) Dr.Web (Malicious), Fortinet (Malware), PREBYTES (Malware), Full List (VirusTotal).
Symptoms The device is running slow, system settings are modified without users' permission, dubious applications appear, data and battery usage is increased significantly, browsers redirect to bogus websites, intrusive advertisements are delivered, monetary loss, problems with online privacy, stolen personal accounts.
Distribution methods Social engineering, SMS messages, fake FedEx website.
Damage Stolen personal information (private messages, logins/passwords, etc.), decreased device performance, battery is drained quickly, decreased Internet speed, huge data losses, monetary losses, stolen identity (malicious apps might abuse communication apps).
Malware Removal (Android) To eliminate malware infections our security researchers recommend scanning your Android device with legitimate anti-malware software. We recommend Avast, Bitdefender, ESET or Malwarebytes.

In conclusion, cybercriminals use a fake FedEx application to distribute FluBot banking malware.

Since this malware can access the contact list, upload and send messages, cybercriminals can spread it further using gathered numbers and sending SMS messages pertaining to be notifications from FedEx with a malicious website link. More examples of Android malware are Oscorp, ThiefBot, and Basbanke.

How did FluBot infiltrate my device?

As mentioned above, FluBot is distributed through a fake FedEx website. Android users receive link to that website via SMS claiming to be a notification from FedEx about the package supposedly due to arrive. Cybercriminals target users living in different countries (e.g., Germany, Poland, Hungary).

Note also that malware can be distributed using email (malicious email attachments, website links in emails), fake software updaters, 'cracking' tools, third-party downloaders, Peer-to-Peer networks, and other dubious sources for downloading files and programs.

In fact, the aforementioned distribution methods are more likely to be used to trick users into installing malware on their computers, rather than mobile devices.

How to avoid installation of malware

Software should be downloaded from legitimate sources (e.g., official pages or platforms). It is never safe to use unofficial pages or other sources for downloading files or applications.

Irrelevant email messages that contain attachments or website links should not be trusted, especially if they are received from an unknown sender. Cybercriminals often use emails of this kind to deliver malware (they encourage users to open the attachment or click on a provided link).

Installed programs must be updated and activated using tools that their official developers provide. Unofficial, third-party tools are often malicious. Moreover, it is illegal to bypass activation of any licensed software using 'cracking' tools or pirated software.

Additionally, your device should have reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software installed - use this software to scan the device regularly.

Screenshot of the fake FedEx website:

flubot malware fake fedex website

Screenshot of the German SMS message:

flubot malware german sms

Text in this message:

Ihr Paket kommt an, verfolgen Sie es hier: -

Screenshot of the Hungarian SMS message:

flubot malware hungarian sms

Text in this message:

Megerkezett a csomagja, kovesse nyomon itt: -

Screenshot of the Polish SMS message:

flubot malware polish sms

Text in this message:

FedEx: Twoja paczka przybywa, sledz tutaj: -

Screenshots of the FluBot installation dialog boxes:

flubot malware first installation step flubot malware second installation step flubot malware third installation step flubot malware fourth installation step

Update August 13, 2021 - FluBot malware's scope has been widespread throughout Europe, but recently its operation reached Australia. The malicious program's proliferation methods and functionalities have not gone through significant changes. FluBot still operates by overlaying victims' screens with fake sign-in windows of various online banking applications.

At the time of research, it targeted the following Australian banks:  Bank Australia, Bank of Melbourne, BankSA, CommBank, Great Southern Bank Australia, HSBC Australia, National Australia Bank, St. George Bank, Suncorp, and UBank.

Screenshots of the fake sign-in windows displayed by FluBot malware:

Fake NetBank (CommBank - Commonwealth Bank of Australia) sign-in window displayed by FluBot malware Fake GSB (Great Southern Bank Australia) sign-in window displayed by FluBot malware Fake NAB (National Australia Bank) sign-in window displayed by FluBot malware Fake Suncorp sign-in window displayed by FluBot malware Fake UBank sign-in window displayed by FluBot malware

Screenshot of a fake warning message used to spread FluBot malware. Malicious websites display this warning to trick users into installing FluBot itself, rather than a security update which supposed to protect them.

Fake warning message spreading FluBot malware

Text presented within:

Your device is infected with the FluBot malware

Android has detected that your device has been infected.

FluBot is an Android spyware that aims to steal financial login and password data from your device.

You must install an Android security update to remove FluBot.

[Install security update]

If a window appears preventing the installation, select "settings" and enable the installation of unknown apps.

Quick menu:

Delete browsing history from the Chrome web browser:

Deleting web browsing history from Chrome in Android operating system (step 1)

Tap the "Menu" button (three dots on the right-upper corner of the screen) and select "History" in the opened drop-down menu.

Deleting web browsing history from Chrome in Android operating system (step 2)

Tap "Clear browsing data", select "ADVANCED" tab, choose the time range and data types you want to delete and tap "Clear data".

[Back to Table of Contents]

Disable browser notifications in the Chrome web browser:

Disabling browser notifications in the Chrome browser in Android operating system (step 1)

Tap the "Menu" button (three dots on the right-upper corner of the screen) and select "Settings" in the opened drop-down menu.

Disabling browser notifications in the Chrome browser in Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you see "Site settings" option and tap it. Scroll down until you see "Notifications" option and tap it.

Disabling browser notifications in the Chrome browser in Android operating system (step 3)

Find the websites that deliver browser notifications, tap on them and click "Clear & reset". This will remove permissions granted for these websites to deliver notifications, however, once you revisit the same site, it may ask for permission again.

You can choose whether to give these permissions or not (if you choose to decline, the website will go to the "Blocked" section and will no longer ask you for permission).

[Back to Table of Contents]

Reset the Chrome web browser:

Resetting Chrome browser to default in Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Apps" and tap it.

Resetting Chrome browser to default in Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you find "Chrome" application, select it and tap "Storage" option.

Resetting Chrome browser to default in Android operating system (step 3)

Tap "MANAGE STORAGE", then "CLEAR ALL DATA" and confirm the action by taping "OK". Note that resetting the browser will eliminate all data stored within. Therefore, all saved logins/passwords, browsing history, non-default settings and other data will be deleted. You will also have to re-login into all websites.

[Back to Table of Contents]

Delete browsing history from the Firefox web browser:

Delete browsing history from the Firefox in the Android operating system (step 1)

Tap the "Menu" button (three dots on the right-upper corner of the screen) and select "History" in the opened drop-down menu.

Delete browsing history from the Firefox in the Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you see "Clear private data" and tap it. Select data types you want to remove and tap "CLEAR DATA".

[Back to Table of Contents]

Disable browser notifications in the Firefox web browser:

Disable browser notifications in the Firefox web browser in the Android operating system (step 1)

Visit the website that is delivering browser notifications, tap the icon displayed on the left of URL bar (the icon will not necessarily be a "Lock") and select "Edit Site Settings".

Disable browser notifications in the Firefox web browser in the Android operating system (step 2)

In the opened pop-up, opt-into the "Notifications" option and tap "CLEAR".

[Back to Table of Contents]

Reset the Firefox web browser:

Resetting Firefox browser in the Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Apps" and tap it.

Resetting Firefox browser in the Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you find "Firefox" application, select it and tap "Storage" option.

Resetting Firefox browser in the Android operating system (step 3)

Tap "CLEAR DATA" and confirm the action by taping "DELETE". Note that resetting the browser will eliminate all data stored within. Therefore, all saved logins/passwords, browsing history, non-default settings and other data will be deleted. You will also have to re-login into all websites.

[Back to Table of Contents]

Uninstall potentially unwanted and/or malicious applications:

Removing unwanted/malicious applications from the Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Apps" and tap it.

Removing unwanted/malicious applications from the Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you see a potentially unwanted and/or malicious application, select it and tap "Uninstall". If, for some reason, you are unable to remove the selected app (e.g., you are prompted with an error message), you should try using "Safe Mode".

[Back to Table of Contents]

Boot the Android device in "Safe Mode":

The "Safe Mode" in the Android operating system temporarily disables all third-party applications from running. Using this mode is a good way to diagnose and solve various issues (e.g., remove malicious applications that prevent users from doing so when the device is running "normally").

Booting Android device in Safe Mode

Push the "Power" button and hold it until you see the "Power off" screen. Tap the "Power off" icon and hold it. After a few seconds, the "Safe Mode" option will appear and you'll be able run it by restarting the device.

[Back to Table of Contents]

Check the battery usage of various applications:

Checking the battery usage of various applications in the Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Device maintenance" and tap it.

Checking the battery usage of various applications in the Android operating system (step 2)

Tap "Battery" and check the usage of each application. Legitimate/genuine applications are designed to use as little energy as possible in order to provide the best user experience and to save power. Therefore, high battery usage may indicate that the application is malicious.

[Back to Table of Contents]

Check the data usage of various applications:

Checking data usage of various applications in the Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Connections" and tap it.

Checking data usage of various applications in the Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you see "Data usage" and select this option. As with the battery, legitimate/genuine applications are designed to minimize data usage as much as possible. Therefore, significant data usage may indicate the presence of malicious application.

Note that some malicious applications might be designed to operate when the device is connected to a wireless network only. For this reason, you should check both Mobile and Wi-Fi data usage.

Checking data usage of various applications in the Android operating system (step 3)

If you find an application that uses a lot of data even though you never use it, then we strongly advise you to uninstall it as soon as possible.

[Back to Table of Contents]

Install the latest software updates:

Keeping the software up-to-date is good practice when it comes to device safety. The device manufacturers are continually releasing various security patches and Android updates in order to fix errors and bugs that can be abused by cyber criminals.

An outdated system is much more vulnerable, which is why you should always be sure that your device's software is up to date.

Installing software updates in the Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Software update" and tap it.

Installing software updates in the Android operating system (step 2)

Tap "Download updates manually" and check if there are any updates available. If so, install them immediately. We also recommend to enable the "Download updates automatically" option - this will allow the system to notify you once an update is released and/or install it automatically.

[Back to Table of Contents]

Reset the system to its default state:

Performing a "Factory Reset" is a good way to remove all unwanted applications, restore system settings to the default, and clean the device in general.

Bear in mind, however, that all data within the device will be deleted, including photos, video/audio files, phone numbers (stored within the device, not the SIM card), SMS messages, and so on. I.e., the device will be restored to its factory state.

You can also restore the basic system settings and/or simply network settings as well.

Resetting the Android operating system to its default (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "About phone" and tap it.

Resetting the Android operating system to its default (step 2)

Scroll down until you see "Reset" and tap it. Now choose the action you want to perform:
"Reset settings" - restore all system settings to default;
"Reset network settings" - restore all network-related settings to default;
"Factory data reset" - reset the entire system and completely delete all stored data;

[Back to Table of Contents]

Disable applications that have administrator privileges:

If a malicious application gets administrator-level privileges, it can seriously damage the system. To keep the device as safe as possible, always check which apps have such privileges and disable the ones that should not.

Disabling Android applications that have administrator privileges (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Lock screen and security" and tap it.

Disabling Android applications that have administrator privileges (step 2)

Scroll down until you see "Other security settings", tap it and then tap "Device admin apps".

Disabling Android applications that have administrator privileges (step 3)

Identify applications that should not have administrator privileges, tap them, and then tap "DEACTIVATE".

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
FluBot virus QR code
Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of FluBot virus on your mobile device.
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