Smartphone spyware can steal WhatsApp messages from Android phones

Isaac Cain
January 18, 2018

Be it through our phone sim card or through the various apps that one installs, hackers have multiple ways to steal our data.

To stay protected from advanced mobile malware threats, Kaspersky Lab strongly recommends implementing a reliable security system that can identify and block such threats on endpoints.

Kaspersky Lab has uncovered a new security vulnerability affecting Android devices, claiming it's one of the world's most powerful Android spyware tools. " This means that the spyware even has the ability to take pictures using your front facing camera, or record audio via the microphone without the user knowing".

Finally, she advised that users should install a reliable security solution in order to protect your device from most malicious apps and files, suspicious websites, and risky links. The level of sophistication of the malware has caused alarm among researchers. Many domains are registered for this goal. It was first spotted by antivirus firm Kapersky Lab in this fall. While it was only recently discovered, the Russian security giant says it dates back as far as 2014.

It has been dubbed "Skygofree", but it has no connection to Sky or any of its products, and does not affect the Sky Go service.

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The victims of this malware were all located in Italy, Kaspersky Lab reported, and it was unclear why they were targeted. The malware itself appears to be the handiwork of an Italian company and the complaints of devices being affected have emerged from Italy only. "As a result of the long-term development process, there are multiple, exceptional capabilities: usage of multiple exploits for gaining root privileges, a complex payload structure, never-before-seen surveillance features such as recording surrounding audio in specified locations".

"It has a lot of different functions, including some unique ones that we have not seen anywhere else, for example, it can track the location of the device and switch on a sound recording when the owner is near certain coordinates. The team, however, couldn't determine 'in what environment these landing pages were used in the wild".

The tool, which is "spread through web pages mimicking leading mobile network operators", can also be used to steal WhatsApp messages, Kaspersky Lab said.

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"Given the many artifacts we discovered in the malware code, as well as infrastructure analysis, we are pretty confident that the developer of the Skygofree implants is an Italian IT company that works on surveillance solutions, just like HackingTeam", according to a Kaspersky blog post. They advise users to be cautious when they receive emails from people and organisations that they don't know.

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