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How to eliminate Kamran from Android devices

Also Known As: Kamran Android malware
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is Kamran?

The Kamran spyware, discovered through a possible watering-hole attack on the Hunza News website, specifically targets Urdu-speaking users in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. Operating as a malicious Android app, Kamran displays legitimate content from the news website while incorporating custom spyware code.

Kamran Android malware

Kamran in detail

Hunza News, a platform reporting on Gilgit-Baltistan, allows users to download its Android app directly from the Urdu version of the website when accessed on a mobile device. However, it is important to note that the app is equipped with malicious espionage capabilities due to a possible watering-hole attack on the local online newspaper.

While the English mobile version of the Hunza News website does not offer an app for download, the Urdu mobile version prompts users to download the Android spyware. Both desktop versions, in English and Urdu, also allow downloading the Android spyware despite its incompatibility with desktop operating systems.

Once opened, the rogue application (Kamran requests the user's permission to access diverse data. If granted, it proceeds to collect information concerning contacts, calendar events, call logs, location details, device information, SMS messages, images, list of installed apps, and more.

Notably, this malevolent app is not available on the Google Play store and is acquired from an undisclosed source labeled as "Unknown" by Google. To install the app, users are required to enable the option allowing installations from unknown sources.

Possible Damage

Given its malicious espionage capabilities, Kamran has the potential to harvest sensitive information such as contact details, calendar events, call logs, and location data. This could lead to severe privacy breaches, exposing personal and potentially confidential information to unauthorized entities.

Furthermore, the unauthorized access to SMS messages, images, and other device files by Kamran raises concerns about the misuse of personal content. Cybercriminals could exploit this data for various malicious purposes, including identity theft, blackmail, or fraudulent activities.

The covert nature of Kamran's operations means that victims may remain unaware of the spyware's presence, exacerbating the risk of prolonged data exposure.

Threat Summary:
Name Kamran Android malware
Threat Type Spyware, Android malware
Detection Names Avira (ANDROID/Spy.Bahamut.yyrpv), Combo Cleaner (Android.Trojan.Agent.gQNPI), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Android/Spy.Kamran.A), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Spy.AndroidOS.Agent.aep), 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.
Distribution methods Watering-hole attack on the Hunza News website, Urdu mobile version of the Hunza News site
Damage Stolen personal information (private messages), decreased device performance, battery is drained quickly, decreased Internet speed, huge data losses, monetary losses, stolen identity, and more.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Conclusion

In conclusion, the Kamran spyware represents a concerning threat, with its targeted approach aimed at compromising the security and privacy of Urdu-speaking users in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. The covert nature of the spyware, coupled with its ability to gather sensitive data, underscores the importance of prompt action for those affected.

More examples of malware targeting Android users are GoldDigger, Rusty Droid, and IRATA.

How did Kamran infiltrate my device?

The Kamran spyware infiltrates devices through a possible watering-hole attack on the Hunza News website, a regional news source focusing on Gilgit-Baltistan. Urdu-speaking users are targeted when accessing the website through an Android device, particularly the Urdu mobile version, which prompts them to download the Android app.

The malicious app, named Hunza News but identified as Kamran, is not available on the Google Play store and is downloaded from the website, requiring users to enable installations from unknown sources.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Download applications exclusively from trusted and official sources such as the Google Play store. Avoid sideloading apps from unknown or third-party websites or stores, as these sources may host compromised or malicious versions. Review app permissions before installation. Employ reliable antivirus or anti-malware tools.

Regularly update the Android operating system and security software. Do not trust ads on shady pages, links, or files within suspicious messages or emails.

Kamran spyware's initial interface (source: ESET):

Kamran spyware malicious app initial interface

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

If your device is infected with the Kamran malware, formatting your storage device may be a drastic measure, and it is not the first recommended step. Run a reputable antivirus or anti-malware software (like Combo Cleaner) scan on your device. This can help identify and remove the Kamran malware.

What are the biggest issues that malware can cause?

Malware can cause a myriad of significant issues, ranging from compromised personal privacy and data theft to financial losses and system damage.

What is the purpose of Kamran malware?

The Kamran malware appears to be designed for espionage, targeting Urdu-speaking users in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. Kamran prompts users to grant permissions, enabling the malware to access sensitive data on Android devices, including contacts, calendar events, call logs, location information, SMS messages, images, and more.

How did Kamran malware infiltrate my device?

The Kamran malware gains access to devices via a potential watering-hole attack on the Hunza News website, with a specific focus on Urdu-speaking users in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. Devices become compromised when users download the Android app containing the malware from the compromised website. Users initiate the malware by launching the app and granting the requested permissions.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from malware?

Combo Cleaner has the capability to identify and remove nearly all recognized malware infections. It is important to note that sophisticated malware often conceals itself deeply within the system. Therefore, it is imperative to conduct a comprehensive system scan to ensure removal.

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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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