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Big Brother is spying on you through your phone

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by Palmetto Fellow, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. Palmetto Fellow

    Palmetto Fellow Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    Sep 24, 2010
    Not really...at least not that I know of. I just wanted a catchy thread title to get my question across.

    With regards to all forms of malware, how easy would it be to create an app that opens up all video and audio channels and sends them to a specified IP address.

    This seems rather easy to me...

    How easy would it be to get this app onto people's phones without them knowing?

    This seems a bit harder...

    In addition to anti-malware software, do I need a firewall with outbound access control? Would this limit access to all radios as well as USB?

    Am I paranoid? You bet I am. I get my EVO tomorrow in the mail and I want some safeguards in place from day 1. What are the best apps to install to prevent something like this from ever happening? If this needs to be moved to app section, please do so.

    Also, is there any pattern to look for if I think this is going on?


  2. Pryomancer

    Pryomancer Well-Known Member

    Mar 29, 2010
    Southampton, England
    You're pretty safe. If you stick to apps from the Android Market, and read the comments about them from users, and they look legit, you don't need to worry. You can also see what phone feaures the app requires access to before you install it, so if you don't like the look of something, you don't need to install.

    As for patterns of activity regarding malware, you'll probably see an increase in charges such as texts, calls and mobile data. One of the first malware programs for Android was one which installed and then made your phone call and text premium numbers.
  3. UncleMike

    UncleMike Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Central NJ
    Edit: removed due to duplicating previous post. I guess I took too long typing. :)
  4. howetechnical

    howetechnical Well-Known Member

    It appears to me that this is really a two part question, both with their own purpose. The first part, as you stated which seems quite easy to you, sounds like you want to see how it can be done. The specific nature of your question, detailing exact media content and destination, is a great deal more than the average user would know to ask. If I am correct in my assumptions here, then no, you should not try to create an application like. For one, it's illegal to install it on somebody else's phone without their knowledge (couple years of jail time, out in a year on good behavior probably), and second it would eat up a lot of bandwidth and raise red flags with the cell provider, not to mention ruin your relationship with that person.

    The second question is more of what an average user would ask, which the answer is to stick with apps on the market. If there was something malicious, it would be taken down and the signature would be blocked within a couple of days. Always look at the permissions that every app is accessing before hitting that "install" button.

    As far as apps to keep you safe, there aren't a whole lot yet as there is not a big market for android malware at this time...though that's quickly changing. I've been using SmrtGuard for years (ever since it was in beta on my BlackBerry), and it includes a plethora of features such as malware scanning and removal (set a time for automatic scanning, too), black list of phone numbers, GPS tracking of your device, remote calling (if it gets stolen, you can call your phone from another phone and it automatically answers, allowing you to listen to the background noise), SIM card lock, and many others. I pay $3.99 / month (site says 5.99, but when you click the button it drops the price) which is well worth it.
  5. IOWA

    IOWA Mr. Logic Pants

    Dec 2, 2009
    Network Admin
    As long as you keep your root apps in check your alright. And if you have the SU Authenticator it will keep apps you dont want to have root rights to access root.
  6. Palmetto Fellow

    Palmetto Fellow Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    Sep 24, 2010
    If I didn't know any better, i'd say that you think I am phishing for a way to create malware...I suppose I could be (you don't know me from Paul)...but in this particular instance, I am not.

    I am usually weary of microhones and cameras built into things...especially things that have broadband access. Sony just released their Move add-on for the PS3. There is a camera now as part of the overall hardware...and it stares into your living room 24 hours a day. (just sayin)

    This is my first Smart Phone...so it got me thinking...if my phone gets hacked, (it's many steps closer to being a PC now, than just a phone) what would/could happen?

    Taking this notion to the extreme would be akin to a movie plot...but I am sure that if this sort of thing hasn't happened yet, it will happen eventually.

    Let's say I stick to known apps...what if i get tricked into launching the Android equivalent of an .exe file via email? Is there such a thing? Could there be such a thing? I get the feeling like hundreds of thousands of Android phones are going to be reset to factory default one day when some a-hole hacker with nothing better to do comes up with a creative way of installing malicious code on Android phones.

    Here's another interesting question:

    Can a phone (any phone, or specifically an Android phone) initiate a phone call without any visible signs that a call is in progress? When you willfully initiate a call, I am sure the screen changes to show that you are in a call. A counter starts at 00:00 and count up the seconds of the call. When the call is over, the screen restores itself to the default.

    Is it possible to have a call made from/to the phone while the screen stays normal?

    BRB, running out of tinfoil.
  7. faber78

    faber78 Guest

    you can do anything with software based only on the limitations of the hardware and finding a way around other software....
  8. Tangent

    Tangent Well-Known Member

    Jun 20, 2010
    There have been apps that do this for years. Every once in a while if there haven't been any shark attacks or cute white girls kidnapped recently you'll see it on the news. The part that they always underplay as much as possible to make it sound scarier is that the person that wants to listen in on you needs physical access to your phone to install the program. If you don't leave your phone lying around where somebody can just pick it up and mess with it, you won't have people spying on you.

    Alternatively, if you leave your bluetooth on and discoverable all the time it's not very difficult for people to browse your phone for pics or vids...
  9. LateNiteMike

    LateNiteMike Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2010
    American Expat now living in Thailand
    Well, I find all of this interesting...and after reading a few of the comments by seemingly informed and smart people.......I would like to ask a somewhat related question.
    Since we're talking about the possible capabilities of an Android OS phone.....my (silly but serious?) question is this:
    Is it possible to setup the phone to be a 'hearing aid' using Bluetooth ???
    I mean,....if you can use Bluetooth for phone calls....then why couldn't bluetooth be used to amplify incoming sounds thru the microphone?
    Yes,....I'm an OLD techie geek and I love gadgets. I'm too vain to wear a real hearing aid and until now unwilling to pay big bucks for the expensive 'hidden' ones.
    I recently bought an SGS...and after some thought...the idea of using my phone in my shirt pocket and a Bluetooth device on my ear as a 'hearing aid' came to mind.

    Call me a crazy old geek if you will....but I would think that this concept is not only possible but viable.

    Feedback from any of you more informed and knowledgeable young geeks will be very much appreciated.
    Anyone care to chime in on this idea...???
    Cheers !
  10. uzetaab

    uzetaab Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2010
    Brisbane Australia
    I'd hardly call that a silly question.

    I found an app for $1 called loud speaker that might work, sorry I don't own it, just did a market search for you.

    Mind you, I don't know how well it works, aside from the fact that the mike is not really designed for picking up sound that's more than a couple of inches away from it, I suspect that battery life would be an issue. Especially since the app probably stops working when the screen is off.

    On a side note, in my opinion there is nothing wrong with wearing a hearing aid. I don't think you should worry about it. I mean, do you care if you see someone wearing glasses? It's the same thing, just a different 'aid'.
    LateNiteMike likes this.
  11. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    Sep 24, 2010
    Well, it is certainly interesting how we Android users have gone from being wary of PC Malware, Bots, Spyware, Pishing, and other potential problems; to trusting souls that install apps that do things we would never accept in the PC world.

    I just installed an app that gave a long list of things the app will do or will have access to. Very scary, but I installed it anyway.

    I am not bashing the Android developers who work hard to bring cool functionality to our little phones. I am not an expert Android user, but I still wonder.

    When you consider that some apps have access to our 'hard drives' (SD Cards, if talking about a phone) access to our contact lists, full internet access, our phone state and identity, system tools, they can read SMS/MMS, access to contact data (read and write) and other things, we are quite trusting.

    I have to believe that an app in the market is a much safer bet than one that is downloaded from some web site. And again, not bashing anyone because I am not sure if this is true or just a guess.

    We accept email and apps from people we know but most of us think twice about following links we recieve in mail sent to us by people we do not know. We purchase software rather than resort to Warez because we know what can happen.

    I posted earlier that I am experiencing som4 sort of cloud animation that runs even though the app is not on my screen. And Task Killer does not show any apps that would account for the little floating clouds, either. Perhaps TK is not the best tool for viewing running apps, I do noy know.

    I am betting that some day we will be talking about dangerous apps installed on our phones. And I'll bet there will be an Apple FanBoy telling us Ha, Ha, Ha.

    If I were evil and mean (rather than simply old, cranky, and pissy) I might look to writing apps for Droid and Apple that do these things and perhaps more.

  12. Demache

    Demache Well-Known Member

    Apr 18, 2010
    Sioux Falls, SD
    Its quite possible. Although, if you have a Verizon or Sprint phone, it will be pretty obvious if your phone is in a phone call. You won't have any data access and you'll be connected to 2G. This in itself does not mean your being hacked, but if your in an area that you know has good 3G coverage and you have mobile data enabled, then its a dead giveaway.

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