NSA Strategy: Infiltrate Phone App Stores to Spy on Phone Users

Edward Snowden released new documents that allegedly show the NSA was planning on hijacking app stores in order to get spyware into phones.

Edward Snowden is still releasing information!

In this case, he has shown how the NSA was hoping to infiltrate Android phones.

From The Week: “NSA planned to hijack app stores to spy on users.”

On the heels of Sen. Rand Paul’s 10-hour semi-filibuster to protest the Patriot Act and National Security Agency (NSA) mass surveillance, The Intercept reports that the NSA intended to use the Google and Samsung app stores to infiltrate users’ phones for mass surveillance purposes.

This new revelation comes from a document freshly released by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The hijacking plan was a portion of a program called “Irritant Horn,” and the goal was to enable the agency to install hidden software on smartphones to secretly broadcast data back to the NSA.

Think about how much data you have on your smartphone. Think of all the emails, all the shared data, and all the social media. Spying on your smartphone pretty much means spying on you in your most intimate details.

According to the Intercept:

The document outlines a series of tactics that the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes were working on during workshops held in Australia and Canada between November 2011 and February 2012.

The main purpose of the workshops was to find new ways to exploit smartphone technology for surveillance. The agencies used the Internet spying system XKEYSCORE to identify smartphone traffic flowing across Internet cables and then to track down smartphone connections to app marketplace servers operated by Samsung and Google. (Google declined to comment for this story. Samsung said it would not be commenting “at this time.”)

As part of a pilot project codenamed IRRITANT HORN, the agencies were developing a method to hack and hijack phone users’ connections to app stores so that they would be able to send malicious “implants” to targeted devices. The implants could then be used to collect data from the phones without their users noticing.

I doubt this news is going to help Google do business in other countries.