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PlaceRaider: Virtual Theft in Physical Spaces with Smartphones

We tend to imagine that cyber-criminals want to target our digital lives, aiming to steal credit card numbers and email accounts as we exchange them for services online. Now they have an easy route into your physical life too – by hijacking your smartphone’s camera.

There is an innovative Malware called PlaceRaider, developed by academics at the Naval Surface Warfare Centre in Indiana and at Indiana University.  This software can easily take control of a smartphone’s camera and relay information about the target’s physical environment back to the thief. The PlaceRaider malware could be hidden inside a custom-made, harmless app, something like Instagram or Hipstamatic that would be downloaded by a large number of users.

In their study, they call PlaceRaider an example of “visual malware”, which picks up where other pieces on phone spy technology have left off, including malware that “can ‘listen’ for spoken credit card numbers through the microphone, or ‘feel’ keystroke vibrations using the accelerometer.”

For now, this stuff exists only in the controlled environment of academic research labs. But should it ever become a real issue, researchers suggested several defenses phone owners and manufacturers can take to keep safe — including development of a “persistent” shutter sound that can’t be circumvented, permission that requires a physical button to be pressed to take a photo, and simply not leaving your phone anywhere you wouldn’t want photographed and sent off to the bad guys.

Interesting to say the least.  How will this affect our civil liberties?    Tell me what you think?




Comments on: "Could Your Phone be Spying on YOU ?" (1)

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