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How to eliminate DawDropper malware from your Android device

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

What is DawDropper?

DawDropper is a piece of malicious software targeting Android operating systems. It is classified as a dropper - a type of program designed to cause chain infections (i.e., download/install other malware). This dropper has been used to infect devices with various banking trojans.

DawDropper's developers offer this malicious program as a service (Malware-as-a-Service [MaaS]) so that cyber criminals could use it to spread their malicious software for a fee. DawDropper has been actively distributed on the Google Play Store under the guise of various system cleaning, messaging, image editing, and other applications.

DawDropper malware detections on VirusTotal

DawDropper overview

DawDropper operates by downloading/installing additional malware, specifically - banking trojans. This program has been observed infecting Android devices with ERMAC 2.0, Hydra, Octo, and TeaBot. These payloads are data-stealing malicious programs that target banking information.

These trojans can have the ability to force-open phishing webpages disguised as online bank sites or overlay banking apps with windows that record log-in credentials entered into them. Some banking trojans can even bypass 2FA/MFA (Two-Factor Authentication/Multi-Factor Authentication). Furthermore, malicious programs of this kind often have additional/other functionalities.

At the time of writing, all variants of DawDropper use Firebase Realtime Database - a genuine third-party cloud service as their Command-and-Control (C&C) server and data storage; while the malicious payloads are hosted on GitHub.

As mentioned in the introduction, DawDropper was spread using multiple applications on the Google Play Store. Trend Micro analysts discovered malicious DawDropper apps named Call Recorder, Call recorder pro+, Conquer Darkness, Crypto Utils, Document Scanner, Document Scanner PRO, Eagle photo editor, Extra Cleaner, FixCleaner, Just In: Video Motion, Lucky Cleaner, Rooster VPN, Simpli Cleaner, Super Cleaner, Unicc QR Scanner, and Universal Saver Pro (screenshot below).

While the listed applications are no longer available on Google Play, the likelihood that there are other DawDropper apps on the platform is high.

To summarize, DawDropper can cause multiple system infections that may lead to severe privacy issues, significant financial losses, and identity theft. If you suspect that your Android device is infected with DawDropper (or other malware), we strongly recommend using an anti-virus to remove it without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name DawDropper virus
Threat Type Android malware, malicious application, unwanted application.
Detection Names Avast-Mobile (Android:Evo-gen [Trj]), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Android/TrojanDownloader.A), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Downloader.AndroidOS.Banker.n), McAfee (Artemis!B02C25D26223), Symantec Mobile Insight (AppRisk:Generisk), 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.

Android-specific malware examples

We have analyzed hundreds of malicious programs targeting Android operating systems; HiddenAdsAIVARATToll Fraud malwareBahamut, and Revive are just some examples.

Malware can have various harmful functionalities, which can be in different combinations. Common functions include stealing sensitive data, encrypting files and/or locking the device's screen (ransomware), recording content (e.g., taking screenshots, camera snapshots, recording audio/video, keylogging, etc.), enabling remote control over devices, causing chain infections, and so on.

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

How did DawDropper infiltrate my device?

DawDropper has been observed being actively proliferated through the Google Play Store. Over a dozen of these malicious applications have been identified (screenshot below), and at the time of writing - they are no longer available on Google Play. However, other disguises are possible.

Generally, cyber criminals distribute malware using phishing and social engineering techniques. Malicious software is usually presented as or bundled with ordinary programs/media.

The most common distribution techniques include: drive-by (deceptive/stealthy) downloads, online scams, spam mail (e.g., emails, SMSes, private messages, etc.), dubious download channels (e.g., freeware and third-party sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal software activation tools ("cracks"), fake updates, and malvertising.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We highly recommend researching software before download/installation and/or purchase, e.g., checking out user/tech reviews, reading terms, being cautious of necessary permissions, etc. Additionally, all downloads must be performed from official and verified sources.

It is crucial to activate and update software using genuine functions/tools, as illegal activation ("cracking") tools and illegitimate updaters can contain malware.

We advise against opening the attachments and links found in suspicious mail (e.g., emails, SMSes, PMs/DMs, etc.) - since that may result in a system infection. Another recommendation is to be vigilant when browsing - as fake and malicious content usually appears legitimate.

We must emphasize the importance of having a reputable anti-virus installed and updated. Security programs must be used to perform regular system scans and to remove threats.

Appearance of the DawDropper malicious applications (image source - Trend Micro website):

DawDropper malware malicious app examples

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".

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

My Android device is infected with DawDropper malware, should I format my storage device to get rid of it?

No, such drastic measures are unnecessary for DawDropper's removal.

What are the biggest issues that DawDropper malware can cause?

DawDropper is a dropper-type malicious program, i.e., it is designed to download/install additional malware. DawDropper has been observed infecting systems with banking trojans (e.g., ERMAC 2.0, Hydra, Octo, and TeaBot). These trojans target banking information. Hence, DawDropper infections can lead to severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.

What is the purpose of DawDropper malware?

Usually, malware is employed to generate revenue. However, cyber criminals may also use malicious software to amuse themselves, disrupt processes (e.g., websites, services, companies, etc.), carry out personal vendettas, and even launch politically/geopolitically motivated attacks.

How did DawDropper malware infiltrate my Android device?

DawDropper has been proliferated under the guise of various applications on the Google Play Store. However, malware can also be distributed via drive-by downloads, spam mail (e.g., emails, SMSes, PMs/DMs, etc.), online scams, untrustworthy download sources (e.g., freeware and third-party websites, P2P sharing networks, etc.), illegal program activation tools ("cracks"), malvertising, and fake updates.

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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.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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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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