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How to remove MRAT malware from your Android device?

Also Known As: MRAT remote access trojan
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is MRAT?

MRAT is a malicious program targeting Android operating systems. This malware is classified as a Remote Access Trojan (RAT).

Software within this classification is designed to enable stealthy remote access and control over infected devices. RATs can have a wide variety of malicious functionalities; hence, the threats posed by this malware type are especially broad.

It is noteworthy that the MRAT program has been proliferated alongside other malware through the official Google Play store.

Android-specific RATs often use accessibility services to gain control over compromised devices. The Android AccessibilityService is intended to aid users in reading and interacting with their devices.

Therefore, remote access trojans can use the AccessibilityService's permissions and functionalities to read the device's screen and control its interface. Regardless of how these trojans gain access to systems, their control over them can be near-limitless.

As mentioned in the introduction, RATs can have various functions. They can control the device, e.g., interact with the touchscreen, use the keypad, unlock/lock the phone, make or hide calls, send text messages, install and use applications, open websites on browsers, and so on.

These trojans may be able to extract and exfiltrate content from devices. To elaborate, they can download files stored on the system and/or obtain information from installed apps.

Targeted data includes (but is not limited to): browsing activity, IP addresses/ geolocations, account/platform/service log-in credentials (i.e., IDs, email addresses, usernames, and passwords), personally identifiable details, bank account and credit card numbers, etc. Some trojans have spying abilities as well.

These can record keystrokes (keylogging), and/or audio/video via microphones and cameras. To summarize, MRAT infections can lead to severe privacy issues, significant financial losses, and even identity theft. If it is known/suspected that MRAT (or other malware) has already infected the device - an anti-virus must be used to remove it immediately.

MRAT malware detections on VirusTotal

Threat Summary:
Name MRAT remote access trojan
Threat Type Android malware, malicious application, unwanted application.
Detection Names Avast-Mobile (APK:RepMalware [PUP]), BitDefenderFalx (Android.Trojan.Banker.UA), ESET-NOD32 (Android/TrojanDownloader.Agent.UT), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Dropper.AndroidOS.Clast82.b), Full List (VirusTotal)
Symptoms The device is running slow, system settings are modified without user's permission, questionable applications appear, data and battery usage is increased significantly, browsers redirect to questionable websites, intrusive advertisements are delivered.
Distribution methods Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, deceptive applications, scam websites.
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.

BRATAAndroRATThiefBot, and Anubis are some examples of malicious programs that target Android devices. In general, malware can have a wide variety of functionalities.

Common features are: enablement of remote access and control over devices, content and data extraction from the device and its applications, data encryption and/or screen locking for ransom purposes (ransomware), download/installation of additional malware, keylogging, audio and video recording, and so on.

Regardless of how malicious software operates - its sole goal is to generate profit at victims' expense. Therefore, all detected threats must be eliminated without delay.

How did MRAT infiltrate my device?

The MRAT malicious program has been observed being spread through the Google Play store, packed together with other malware under the guise of genuine apps. Malware is seldom distributed through legitimate and trustworthy download sources, due to them using various prevention and protection measures, as well as user report systems.

Hence, malicious content either cannot be uploaded to such channels or it is not hosted for long. However, it is common for malicious software to be presented as or bundled with ordinary programs/media.

Typically, malware is proliferated via dubious download sources, e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting (freeware) sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks (Torrent clients, eMule, Gnutella, etc.), and other third-party downloaders. Illegal activation tools ("cracks") and fake updates are prime examples of malware-spreading content.

"Cracking" tools can cause infections instead of activating licensed products. Illegitimate updaters infect systems by exploiting flaws of outdated programs and/or by installing malicious software rather than the updates.

Another commonly used malware-proliferation technique is distribution via spam campaigns. This term defines a mass-scale operation during which thousands of deceptive/scam emails are sent.

These letters have infectious files attached to and/or linked inside them. Virulent files can be in various formats, e.g., archives, executables, PDF and Microsoft Office documents, JavaScript, etc. When the files are executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection process is triggered.

How to avoid installation of malware?

It is recommended to always research software products before download/installation and/or purchase. Additionally, all downloads must be done from official and verified channels.

It is just as important to activate and update programs with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. To avoid infecting the system via spam mail, it is advised against opening suspect/irrelevant emails - especially any attachments or links present in them.

It is paramount to have a dependable anti-virus/anti-spyware installed and updated. Furthermore, this software has to be used to run regular system scans and remove detected threats and issues.

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 dropdown 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".

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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 dropdown 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 visit the same site again, it may ask for a permission again. You can choose whether to give these permissions or not (if you choose to decline the website will go to "Blocked" section and will no longer ask you for the permission).

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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.

This means that 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 as well.

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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 dropdown 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".

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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-in the "Notifications" option and tap "CLEAR".

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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.

This means that 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 as well.

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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 the "Safe Mode".

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Boot the Android device in "Safe Mode":

The "Safe Mode" in 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 you 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.

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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 low 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.

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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 battery, legitimate/genuine applications are designed to minimize data usage as much as possible. This means that huge data usage may indicate presence of malicious application.

Note that some malicious applications might be designed to operate when the device is connected to 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.

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Install the latest software updates:

Keeping the software up-to-date is a 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 way 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 - it will enable the system to notify you once an update is released and/or install it automatically.

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Reset the system to its default state:

Performing a "Factory Reset" is a good way to remove all unwanted applications, restore system's settings to default and clean the device in general. However, you must keep in mind 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 forth. In other words, the device will be restored to its primal 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;

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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 you should always check what apps have such privileges and disable the ones that shouldn't.

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.

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