FBI issues virus warning for Android phone users, mentions surveillance software sold to governments
By End the Lie
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), specifically their Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), has issued a warning to users of smartphones running Google’s Android operating system concerning “new” viruses which have become increasingly widespread.
However, at least one of these viruses is far from new. Indeed, one of the two viruses identified by the FBI is one which is marketed to governments. This is hardly surprising given the rise in state-sponsored malicious software.
“Once loaded onto your phone, FinFisher can remotely control and monitor your phone, no matter where you are,” according to WXYZ Detroit. “This virus is transmitted through what seems to be a system update, sent through a [text-message] or a web link.”
The other piece of malware is Loozfon, which is designed to steal the contact information from a device infected with the virus.
One of the ways Loozfon is distributed is through a fake work-at-home opportunity that loads the malware onto the target’s smartphone when they click an infected advertisement.
The IC3’s warning was released on October 12, 2012, according to Government Security News Magazine and characterized the “new” malware as “the latest efforts by criminals to plague mobile devices.”
The announcement said that Loozfon is focused on stealing information like contact details and the infected device’s phone number.
FinFisher, on the other hand, is much more insidious seeing as it can actually “take over the components of a mobile device.”
“When the malware is installed, the mobile device can be remotely controlled and monitored no matter where the device is located,” according to Mark Rockwell of Government Security News Magazine.
IC3 also stated that FinFisher can be transmitted to a target’s smartphone quite easily if they open a specific web link or a text message masked as a system update.
The IC3’s recommendations seem almost comically common sense with their advice being that users should know the features of their device when they buy it and turn it off when not in use.
Some of their recommendations were slightly more useful, such as encouraging device-side encryption when available as well as password protection and screenlocks.
The IC3 warning also told users to “be aware” of the quite obvious fact that geo-location capabilities in one’s phone can track one’s location.
It’s interesting that the FBI would give such a warning given that law enforcement has issued record-shattering numbers of requests for this location information in addition to the fact that the Obama administration claims that cellphone location data is not protected by the Constitution.
The warning said that while such geo-location information can be used for innocuous marketing purposes, it also can be used by “malicious actors, raising concerns of assisting a possible stalker and/or burglaries.”
I find it quite interesting that the U.S. government would now be bringing attention to a piece of malicious surveillance software that had been directly marketed to them in the past.
The obvious question is: why?
Note: this software and much more invasive surveillance programs directly marketed to the government will be covered on the October 15, 2012 edition of End the Lie Radio on UCY.tv. Be sure to tune in to learn much more about this software and just how many U.S. government entities all the way down to local police departments across the United States have had these products marketed to them.
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