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How to remove the Sandro remote access trojan for your Android device?

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

What is Sandro RAT?

Sandro is a piece of malicious software, classified as a RAT (Remote Access Trojan). This malware type enables remote access and control over a compromised device.

RATs can allow for close-to or user-level amount of control over infected machines. Hence, these trojan infections can lead to a wide variety of severe issues. The Sandro RAT targets Android operating systems.

Android-specific remote access trojans typically abuse the Accessibility Services to gain control over devices. These services are intended to aid users who require additional help in reading and interacting with their devices.

The Android Accessibility Services can read/view the screen (including what the user types) and simulate/interact with the touchscreen. If the Accessibility Services are not enabled, RATs tend to continuously display pop-up windows that ask these services to be allowed.

Therefore, users often inadvertently grant the malware the requested permissions - in hopes of stopping the pop-ups from being shown again. RATs can have a broad range of malicious features.

The functionalities can allow the malware to control the devices' hardware, software, and stored content. To elaborate, the trojan may be able to record audio and video via microphones and videos.

They can view, interact with, run, and even delete installed apps. Likewise, malware can view, modify, move, and even exfiltrate (download) files and other stored material. Should a malicious program be able to infiltrate (upload) files and execute them - then it can be used to cause chain infections (i.e., install additional malware).

Hence, these trojans can inject systems with data-encrypting or screen-locking ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, and other malicious programs. RATs typically target sensitive and personal information, and they use various functions/tactics to obtain it.

Some can extract data from browsers and other installed applications. Others may acquire it from the system and default or installed services.

Keylogging (key-stroke recording) can be used for this purpose as well. Malware may display fake screens that require information to be entered into them; alternatively, the software might force-open phishing websites designed to record provided data.

Information of interest includes (but is not limited to): browsing activity, confidential and/or personally identifiable details, account/platform log-in credentials (i.e., IDs, email addresses, usernames, and passwords), and finance-related data (e.g., banking account details, and credit card numbers).

To summarize, Sandro infections can result in serious privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft. Therefore, if it is suspected or known that Sandro (or other malware) has infected the device - an anti-virus must be used to remove it without delay.

Sandro malware detections on VirusTotal

Threat Summary:
Name Sandro remote access trojan
Threat Type Android malware, malicious application, unwanted application.
Detection Names Avast-Mobile (Android:Sandr-D [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.GenericKD.34204249), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Android/Spy.Kasandra.A), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Spy.AndroidOS.Sandr.e), 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.

MRATBRATA, and AndroRAT are a few examples of Android-targeting remote access trojans. As previously mentioned, malware can have varied heinous functionalities.

The sole purpose of this software is to generate revenue for the cyber criminals behind it. How malware is used and what threats it poses - depends on the program's capabilities and the criminals' modus operandi.

Regardless of how malicious software operates, it endangers device and user safety. Therefore, all system infections must be eliminated immediately upon detection.

How did Sandro infiltrate my device?

Malware is commonly proliferated through spam campaigns - large-scale operations during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. The letters are usually presented as "urgent", "important", "priority", and similar; they may even be disguised as mail from genuine institutions, authorities, organizations, companies, service providers, and other entities.

The scam emails have virulent files attached to and/or linked inside them. These files can be in various formats, e.g., Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archive and executable files, JavaScript, etc. When the files are executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection chain (i.e., malware download/installation) is triggered.

Malicious programs are often disguised as or bundled with ordinary software/media, and then distributed via dubious download channels (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders). Illegal activation tools ("cracks") and fake updates are prime examples of malware-spreading content, typically obtained from such sources.

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

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspicious and irrelevant emails must not be opened, especially any attachments or links present in them. Additionally, all downloads have to be done from official and verified sources.

It is just as important to activate and update programs with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. To ensure device integrity and user privacy, it is crucial to have a dependable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept updated.

Furthermore, this software has to be used to run regular system scans and remove detected/potential threats.

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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