A long-running malware campaign whose activity dates back to 2016 has been using a sophisticated playbook of tricks to sneak trojanized Android apps into the Google Play Store as well as third-party marketplaces.

Researchers from Kaspersky have dubbed the campaign PhantomLance and, based on certain calling cards, have attributed it with medium confidence to the OceanLotus APT group, which experts typically associate with Vietnam-based cyber espionage actors. The findings appear to echo an October 2019 Mobile Malware and APT Espionage report from BlackBerry Cylance, which detailed an operation dubbed OceanMobile that spread malware via fake apps with elaborately crafted back stories.

In a company blog post, Kaspersky researchers Alexey Firsh and Lev Pikman report that the campaign's main payload is a backdoor that anti-virus firm Dr. Web first observed in Google Play in July 2019.

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