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YOUR SMARTPHONE IS SPYING ON YOU AND IT'S GETTING WORSE

Date: 2018-07-10



Your phone is surreptitiously monitoring you.

.. but, of course it is. Everyone knows that it is just a given these days.

But, it is also perhaps quite a bit worse than you may have suspected. Many top apps, for instance, are secretly taking screenshots and videos and sending them to other people, according to a new study.

That means, of course, anything that shows up on your screen could be digital fodder.

"We found that thousands of popular apps have the ability to record your screen and anything you type," David Choffnes told Techxplore. "That includes your username and password because it can record the characters you type before they turn into those little black dots."

It is much worse than we first thought – especially in cybersecurity. But damn, this is the bottom barrel. I’m no slouch when it comes to security, but this trumps even my memorised 28 character iPhone passphrase.

The study started because a pair of students – Elleen Pan and Jingjing Ren – wanted to investigate the common urban legend that phones are listening in conversations and shooting out adverts based on that. We’ve all had that feeling when a friend tells us about a new thing and then suddenly that’s your top suggested item on Amazon. And that is the absolute worst feeling of deja vu. Unfortunately, while that isn’t exactly what’s happening, the reality is quite a bit worse.

"We knew we were looking for a needle in a haystack," said Choffnes, "and we were surprised to find several needles."

"This opening will almost certainly be used for malicious purposes," said Christo Wilson, another professor who supervised the students. "It’s simple to install and collect this information. And what’s most disturbing is that this occurs with no notification to or permission by users. In the case we caught, the information sent to a third party was zip codes, but it could just as easily have been credit card numbers."

The fact that there were "no audio leaks at all," according to Wilson leaves me with a bizarre feeling of unease though. Because we all know that happens, but, then again, if Target can figure out you’re pregnant like two months in, maybe we really are that predictable.


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