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How to remove the Ghimob Trojan?

Also Known As: Ghimob banking malware
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is Ghimob?

A banking trojan is a type of malware that cybercriminals use to steal financial information, login credentials from banking-related applications, or other details. Ghimob is the name of a banking trojan targeting Android users in Angola, Brazil (mainly), Germany, Mozambique, Portugal, and some other countries.

It is known that cybercriminals behind Ghimob target 153 mobile financial apps from banks, financial technology businesses, cryptocurrency, and other exchange companies. It is known that cybercriminals use email (malicious links) to distribute Ghimob.

Ghimob android malware

Cybercriminals can access devices infected with the Ghimob banking trojan remotely. They can use the device to make fraudulent transactions without being detected by security solutions that financial institutions use to prevent fraud.

It is important to mention that Ghimob hides its icon from the app drawer and can record screen lock patterns. Therefore, cybercriminals can use those patterns to unlock locked devices whenever they want to.

Research shows that the attackers can make fraudulent transactions using Ghimob to display a black screen as an overlay (or open some page in full-screen mode). They can make fraudulent transactions in the financial app opened by users while that screen or a website is displayed to cover malicious actions.

Another important detail about the Ghimob banking trojan is that it gains persistence, captures data, and provides the attackers remote control over the infected device using the Accessibility Mode. This trojan has the functions of a remote access/administration trojan. It is worthwhile to mention that Ghimob obtains information such as infected phone model, a list of installed apps (with version numbers) and checks whether the device has a screen lock activated, and sends this information to the attackers.

Ghimob also prevents victims from uninstalling it, restarting, or turning off the infected device. It is worthwhile to mention that information stolen with Ghimob could be not only used for malicious purposes but also sold on darweb (to other cybercriminals who could do the same).

Threat Summary:
Name Ghimob banking malware
Threat Type Android malware, malicious application, unwanted application.
Detection Names Arcabit (Trojan.Generic.D2BA6461), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.45769825), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Android/Spy.Banker.ARD), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Ghimob.a), 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/website links, malicious websites
Damage Stolen personal information (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, Ghimob is used to steal login credentials (obtain access to applications from banks, cryptocurrency exchange companies, financial technology businesses and make unauthorized transactions, steal identities. Although, it is possible that this banking trojan may be used to access non-financial accounts too.

In one way or another, if there is a reason to suspect that Ghimob or any other malicious application is installed on a device, then it should be removed as soon as possible. Typically, users who have their devices infected with malware of this type suffer monetary loss, become victims of identity theft, experience issues with online privacy, and other problems. More examples of Android malware are AlienBot, MRAT, and BRATA.

How did Ghimob infiltrate my device?

It is known that Ghimob is delivered via website links that cybercriminals send via emails disguised as letters from banks or other financial entities. Like most trojans, this one is disguised as a legitimate application.

Research shows that cybercriminals attempt to trick users into installing Ghimob by disguising it as Google Defender, Google Docs, WhatsApp Updater, and other legitimate apps. It is important to mention that mobile malware can be distributed through the Google Play store, bundled together with other malware pretending to be genuine software as well.

Also, cybercriminals can use unreliable sources like unofficial pages, third-party downloaders, Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), free file hosting websites, and other channels of this kind as well, fake software updaters, 'cracking' tools to distribute malicious files, apps. Although, most of the aforementioned ways are used when the targeted devices are desktop computers.

How to avoid installation of malware?

It is strongly recommended to avoid opening attachments or website links in irrelevant emails that are received from suspicious or unknown senders or downloads from untrusted sites, Peer-to-Peer networks, third-party downloaders, etc. File or links should be opened only when a sender is trustworthy, and an email is not irrelevant.

Files and apps should be downloaded only from official, legitimate pages and via direct links. Furthermore, it is advisable to keep the installed operating system and software up to date.

Although, it should be achieved using implemented functions or tools from the official developers. The same applies to software activation. It is very common that third-party, unofficial activation or updating tools are malicious.

Also, it is illegal to use 'cracking' tools to activate the software. Additionally, it is recommended to scan the system for viruses regularly and do it with a reputable antivirus or ant-spyware software.

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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