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Scammers are abusing mobile ad networks to phish Android users. An apparent cyber-espionage campaign coincides with a South China Sea dispute. And a banking trojan is born. This is CyberScoop for Thursday, April 30.

Spearphishing heats up in the South China Sea

A collection of islands in the northwest portion of the South China Sea has been the subject of perennial tensions between China and Vietnam, and China looks to be taking that dispute online, according to Anomali findings. Threat researchers suspect that Chinese government-linked hackers, known as Pirate Panda, are behind a recent spate of spearphishing emails embedded with malicious Microsoft Excel documents sent to government targets in Da Nang, Vietnam. The messages, which leverage lures about Vietnamese holidays on April 30 and May 1, comes just as the maritime dispute between China and Vietnam has flared up in recent days. Shannon Vavra had the story first.

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The mobile apps directing users to sketchy sites

It's a pillar of the app economy: Apps come embedded with proprietary software that is designed to help app developers monetize their program by serving ads. Scammers are exploiting that process on Android, though, by inserting malicious ads into 400 apps meant to help developers earn a living. Domains and URLs sent in ads from the distribution framework known as StartApp flood users with links to malicious sites or push notifications for spam, according to new findings from mobile security firm Wandera. It’s just the latest on how the complex mobile advertising ecosystem has made it possible for attackers to spread malware and leverage infected devices for their own efforts. Jeff Stone had the exclusive.

Researchers try to preempt attacks on bank customers

A flurry of credential-stealing malware has emerged in recent months as more people resort to mobile banking. The latest is a malicious Android app called EventBot, which is capable of targeting 200 financial apps, ranging from a Barclays banking tool to money transfer services like PayPal Business. The malware likely hasn’t been used in any attacks yet, but researchers from Cybereason are sounding the alarm in an effort to forestall those attacks. Sean Lyngaas has more details.

Why remote work means more opportunity for hackers

Attempts by hackers to “brute-force” (or guess passwords until they find the right one) Microsoft’s popular Remote Desktop Protocol have skyrocketed around the world since the beginning of March, according to Kaspersky. In the U.S., the number of daily hacking attempts more than quadrupled in two days from 203,000 on March 9 to 847,000 on March 11. The findings coincided with a report from ransomware-recovery firm Coveware, which found that RDP access points remain the most common attack vector for ransomware-slinging criminals. RDP credentials for an enterprise IP address go for as cheap as $20 on the dark web, Coveware said. It's only the latest evidence tear scammers are looking for way to prey on remote workers. Here's the explanation.

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