By Robert Lemos
June 26, 2013
Security researchers have warned that mobile phones could easily be made into surveillance devices that can track users, record audio and video of their surroundings, and eavesdrop on their communications. Now one researcher plans to show off a proof-of-concept program at the Black Hat Security Briefings this summer that can compromise a phone and turn it into just such an eavesdropping platform.
The program, created by researchers at network security firm Kindsight, essentially turns any Android phone into a compromised bot, allowing the attacker to eavesdrop on communications, track location, download personal information and take pictures without the victim’s knowledge. In addition, the researchers will show how they developed the architecture of the eavesdropping software and ways that it can be easily added as a Trojan Horse to any mobile app.
“This is a demonstration, a proof-of-concept malware,” says Kevin McNamee, security architect and director of Kindsight’s Security Labs. “We use this as a way to show the capabilities of the malware and show how dangerous cyberespionage can be.”
While only a small fraction of U.S. mobile users are impacted by malware, spyware makes up a large portion of the pantheon of mobile threats. As of March 2013, almost two out of every 10 malicious mobile applications qualifies as spyware, according to Juniper Networks’ Mobile Threat Center. The company classifies any program that captures and transfer sensitive data on the phone without notifying the user as spyware.
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