SPYING THROUGH SMART PHONES: A NEW PROJECT ECHELON?October 26, 2012
A couple of weeks ago I blogged about a security service in Canada offering technologies to visually monitor one's home while one was away, a technology and "service" that I offered was as much about control of you, than about protecting you. Now, there's this from MIT's Technology Review:
"Today Robert Templeman at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana, and a few pals at Indiana University reveal an entirely new class of 'visual malware' capable of recording and reconstructing a user's environment in 3D. This then allows the theft of virtual objects such as financial information, data on computer screens and identity-related information.
"Templeman and co call their visual malware PlaceRaider and have created it as an app capable of running in the background of any smartphone using the Android 2.3 operating system."
Obviously, the article is rightly concerned about the use of such software to spy on an individual through their smartphone. With this demonstrated capability, almost anyone could get into this act, from nations, to corporations, independent rogue groups, Mafiosi, drug lords... you name it.
But there's another possibility here as well, and that is using someone's phone to spy on a third party with whom the individual is known to associate. Gone are the days of the small "spy camera" and microfilm, all one needs is an infected smart phone. But why stop there? One could build databases of contacts, conversations, key words... in short, one could have a project Echelon with a vengeance: not only mining conversations and emails for keywords, but now also scanning pictures, objects, for information, a pattern of contacts, and suspicious "things." (And, trust me folks, DARPA is already working on such things).