Once again, we have to tip our cap in grudging admiration for the lengths the National Security Administration will go to hack into our mobile devices. The Intercept has published some new documents leaked by Edward Snowden that show how the NSA and other spy agencies at one point planned to conduct man-in-the-middle attacks between end users and Android app stores to infect users’ phones with spyware.
“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,” writes The Intercept. “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.”
Once the NSA gained access to users’ Android phones it also planned to send the devices “selective misinformation to the targets’ handsets” to create confusion and chaos among enemies.
To see a more detailed account of the NSA’s Android hacking plans, check out the full Intercept report here.