Experts have found a new spy app, classified as sophisticated, that monitors the camera and even WhatsApp or SMS messages from Android phones. The application, capable of activating the microphone and transmitting call data and documents stored on the cell phone, was not registered in the Play Store, Google’s official store.
The discovery was announced by security company Zimperium and is able to access virtually all data and resources on the smartphone. Zimperium is part of the App Defense Alliance, a group formed by Google to improve the security of Android.
The spy program arrives at the user’s cell phone disguised as a system update and is installed alongside other applications offered at alternative stores. Once installed, it hides its icon and disappears from the main list, making it difficult to remove.
What draws the attention of the specialists is the broad scope of the program to have access to the data on the telephone. The app accesses the internet and receives commands from a control server, which indicates what data should be collected.
What data is collected?
Among the monitored information are all types of messages exchanged via SMS and apps such as WhastApp. If the phone has root access, the spy “sees” the entire database, including deleted messages.
All the content of any type of notification is also exposed, as well as the history of calls made and received; the contact list, browsing history and browser favorites; and the general data of the device, including everything installed on it, storage statistics and the clipboard.
GPS location data can also be monitored. The device’s microphone and camera are able to record calls, take photos and record videos, which are exported in miniature to reduce data consumption. The application also accesses documents in PDF and Microsoft Office files under 30 MB.
The emergence of the new spy app reinforces the security recommendations for Android users: avoid unofficial stores and do not perform a “root” process, since the mechanism enhances the capabilities of malicious apps.
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