Worried about NSA spying on your phone conversations? Here’s a reason to worry even more. The CBC is reporting that the spy agency had a plan that would target your smartphone with spyware.
According to the report, the NSA, and its spying partners in the “Five Eyes” alliance — Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia — intended to exploit vulnerabilities in a popular browser in order to hack into smartphones via the Google and Samsung app stores.
A document released by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals how the plans were discussed at workshops held in Australia in late 2011 through early 2012. The document indicates that the ultimate goal of the spy agencies involved was to install spyware on certain smartphones, and extract data from them.
The document shows that the spy agencies wanted to use app store servers to launch so-called “man in the middle” attacks, where the agency would insert itself between two computers as they communicate with each other. This would allow the agency to modify data packets and add spyware, without being detected. In addition, the agencies wanted to use the technique to send misinformation to users’ phones, hopefully confusing them.
The Intercept and CBC News contacted the spy agencies involved, but none would speak on the record about the plan.
When do security concerns cross the line into intrusion into the privacy of innocent citizens? There is no question that terrorists and other enemies of the west are using modern technology to communicate, and plan attacks. But the information sweeps planned by various spy agencies have the potential to go beyond monitoring and tracking potential terrorists. They are a threat to the privacy of everyone who uses technology.
Here’s a report, from CBC News:
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