NSA planned to infect phones with malware via Google Play store

NSA Malware Google Play

Malware in the Google Play Store and Samsung app store is nothing new, but when it comes comes from the US National Security Agency, then that’s a whole new threat level.

An NSA app-hijacking program, dubbed IRRITANT HORN, was set up by the US as part of a joint spying unit, according to new documents from controversial whistle-blower Edward Snowden and obtained by The Intercept and CBC News. It also involved Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Mobile phones became infected with malware and spyware by using web traffic around application servers, and document slides cite Google and Samsung servers in this process.

The plan was to intercept traffic before it reached to servers and infect certain users’ phones with malware and spyware, a type of “man-in-the-middle” attack. Once the malware is in the phone, it would relay sensitive information, such as contacts and nearly real-time location at all time. Sketchy, right?

This is not the first, shall we say, “less than admirable” tactic the NSA has employed to keep tabs on people. Last year, The Intercept also reported that the NSA had planned a mass infection of computers with malware, estimating millions in the crosshairs.

The documents are dated from 2011 to 2012 and it’s still unclear whether this plan was ever implemented or not. Regardless, the NSA has proven its disregard for user privacy many times, and it’s an equally startling reminder that our data may not be safe, even behind the mighty Google’s encryption. The fallout from this, and every new revelation that Snowden will reveal, is something to keep an eye on.

Via The Verge