| Researchers May 15, 2018


May 15, 2018

Stealth Mango and Tangelo: Nation state mobile surveillanceware stealing data from military & government officials

By Andrew Blaich, Michael Flossman

Lookout Security Intelligence has discovered Android and iOS surveillanceware tools targeting government officials, diplomats, military personnel, and activists, specifically in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Iraq, and the UAE. Additionally, data from U.S., Australian, and German officials and military have been swept up in the campaign we believe is being run by members in the Pakistani military. 

We're calling these surveillanceware families Stealth Mango (Android) and Tangelo (iOS). 

Stealth Mango GPS data from exfil data

GPS coordinates pulled from the EXIF data of exfiltrated images is centered around Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and the United Arab Emirates.

The Lookout Security Intelligence team alerted Google to the existence of Stealth Mango during our investigation. The company states: "Google identified the apps associated with this actor, none of the apps were on the Google Play Store. Google Play Protect has been updated to protect user devices from these apps and is in the process of removing them from all affected devices."

Phishing and distribution

Stealth Mango phishing message

Phishing message sent through Facebook Messenger. 

The actors behind Stealth Mango typically lure victims via phishing messages sent by fake Facebook personas, but in some cases may have used physical access to victims' devices. As was the case with previous actors we've reported on, such as Dark Caracal, the actor behind Stealth Mango has stolen a significant amount of sensitive data from compromised devices without the need to resort to exploits of any kind.

Exfiltrated content

The majority of this content we analyzed has information that would be of great interest to a nation state actor. This includes:

  • Letters and internal government communications
  • Detailed travel information
  • Pictures of IDs and passports
  • GPS coordinates of pictures and devices
  • Legal and medical documents
  • Developer information including whiteboard sessions, account information, and test devices
  • Photos of the military, government, and related officials from closed door meetings including U.S. Army personnel

Stealth Mango Diplomat travel info

Details around travel in and around Pakistan from Australian diplomats.

Exfiltrated content

Exfiltrated content was found to contain military photos including a series of images from an event with military attendees from numerous countries including U.S. Army personnel.

Attacker personas

Stealth Mango & Tangelo report coverWe have also identified, as part of this investigation, several individuals who we believe are responsible for the development of other commodity Android and iOS spyware tools that share many similarities to Stealth Mango and Tangelo. These individuals all belong to the same freelance developer group for hire, which says it has a physical presence in India, Pakistan, and the United States. 

Get more in-depth details about Stealth Mango and Tangelo, the data collected, the actors behind this nation state surveillanceware, and a list of the indicators of compromise by downloading our technical report


Author

Andrew Blaich,
Manager - Vulnerability Research


Author

Michael Flossman,
Security Research Services Tech Lead