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Security Alert: Hackers can spy on Android users through their devices’ cameras

ByinTips & Guides | May 26, 2014

AndroidAll of us are aware that each day computers and servers are attacked by hundreds of viruses and different kinds of spyware, so it’s natural that every user try to protect equipment with antivirus software. Also you probably know that your phone can be threatened too? Of course, we are not talking about the most basic handsets, but smartphones, phablets and even tablets on which you can download all kind of apps from the web. What is the most terrifying is that hackers are becoming more and more creative, sophisticated and efficient. How creative exactly? Computer scientist and blogger Szymon Sidor claims that hackers are able to spy on Android users through their devices’ cameras.

Android Security Issue – How it works.

Creepy, isn’t it? It gets even creepier when we find out that hackers can spy on Android users without the victims’ knowledge. The process is very simple in its essence. All it takes is to download an infected app from the Google Play Store (or any app marketplace) and install it on your smartphone. The app takes photos or records videos using phone’s camera and then uploads the files to a designated server. Sidor just proved that.

How to discover the hack? Well, here is the tip. Such apps require visible app activity and consequently the phone’s screen must be turned on. Therefore it’s probable that sooner or later user will notice that something is not right so pay attention. However, here are the bad news. It is possible for hackers to find a way around of  the requirement and make your phone snap photos and videos with screen shut down. Sidor just proved that.

The scientist wrote a camera app for the Nexus 5 that can snap photos and send them to a remote server and user will never know that it does so. There’s still video preview on your screen but you won’t see it because it fits on just one pixel. The Nexus 5 has approximately 445 pixels per inch so in reality it is impossible for user to notice one of them acting in odd way, even if you are exceptionally perceptive. The Nexus 5 is just an example. The sad truth is that chances of discovering one malfunctioning pixel even on a less dense screen are close to none.

Sidor’s idea is brilliant and horrifying at the same time. As of now, the existence of no such app has been confirmed, but since they can act without alerting users, it’s possible that they are already circulating only but we are not aware of it. If the scientist found out about the loophole, it is s possible that someone else with not clear intentions did it too. Creepy.

source: Snacks for your mind

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