Escobar malware “could play havoc with victims’ bank accounts”


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A new malware is stealing personal data and online banking details by disguising itself as McAfee antivirus software, but should normal people be scared of it? We asked  three security experts to find out. Here’s what they told us.

As we detailed in our Escobar explainer, the malware is an Android trojan that uses a combination of remote control features to trick unsuspecting users into revealing bank login details and 2FA Google Authenticator codes. 

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Escobar is reportedly capable of taking over mics and cameras, monitoring calls, downloading media, uninstalling apps, sending text messages and more, essentially wreaking havoc over its victims’ personal devices. 

What’s perhaps most scary is that this particular malware sneaks onto phones under the guise of a well-known antivirus software: McAfee. 

We reached out to McAfee to find out more about the menacing software hijacking its namesake. 

“McAfee is aware of reports of the Escobar Android malware application masquerading as a legitimate McAfee application”, a spokesperson for McAfee told Trusted Reviews

“This malicious application is being distributed via third-party channels outside of the Google Play store. McAfee is aware of this malware, and has had protection for our customers in place since March 4”. 

McAfee explained that the malware is infecting users through third-party app distributors who, unlike Google’s Play store and Apple’s App Store, don’t have any process in place to review and vet apps to confirm they are safe for users to download. The security vendor even warned that some sites might intentionally host malicious apps as part of broader scams. 

While cybercriminals have found ways to work around Google and Apple’s review process in the past, McAfee…