Researchers Expose Messaging App Used For Stealing Smartphone Data

 

An espionage campaign using malware-infected messaging apps has been stealing smartphone data from activists, soldiers, lawyers, journalists and others in more than 20 countries, researchers said in a report Thursday.

A report authored by digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation and mobile security firm Lookout detailed discovery of “a prolific actor” with nation-state capabilities “exploiting targets globally across multiple platforms.”

Desktop computers were also targeted, but getting into data-rich mobile devices was a primary objective, according to the report.

With fake versions of secure messaging services like WhatsApp and Signal, the scheme has enabled attackers to take pictures, capture audio, pinpoint locations, and mine handsets for private data.

EFF and Lookout researchers dubbed the threat “Dark Caracal.”

People in the US, Canada, Germany, Lebanon, and France have been hit by Dark Caracal, according to EFF director of cybersecurity Eva Galperin.

“This is a very large, global campaign, focused on mobile devices,” Galperin said.

“Mobile is the future of spying, because phones are full of so much data about a person’s day-to-day life.”

Hundreds of gigabytes of data have been taken from thousands of victims in more than 21 countries, according to Lookout and the EFF.

There were indications that Dark Caracal might be an infrastructure hosting a number of widespread, global cyberespionage campaigns, some of which date back years, the report said.

Because the apps fool people into thinking they are legitimate, users give them access to cameras, microphones and data.

“All Dark Caracal needed was application permissions that users themselves granted when they downloaded the apps, not realizing that they contained malware,” said EFF staff technologist Cooper Quintin.

“This research shows it’s not difficult to create a strategy allowing people and governments spy to on targets around the world.”

Researchers reported that they tracked Dark Caracal to a building in Beirut belonging to the Lebanese General Security Directorate.

Analysis showed that devices of military personnel, businesses, journalists, lawyers, educators, and medical professionals have been compromised, according to the report.

“Not only was Dark Caracal able to cast its net wide, it was also able to gain deep insight into each of the victim’s lives,” the report concluded.

Cyber security professionals consistently warn people to be wary when downloading software, avoiding programs shared through links or email and instead relying on trusted sources.

AFP

Aisha Buhari Urges Nigerians To Know Their Consumer Rights

Aisha Buhari Thanks Nigerians for Supporting Husband’s AdministrationThe wife of the Nigerian President, Aisha Buhari, has urged Nigerians to understand their rights as consumers, in order to stand up to market abuses that undermine those rights.

She said the rights of the consumer must be protected and those on the wrong side of the law should be made to understand that.

“Their rights come to an end where the rights of the consumers begin”, Aisha said.

Mrs. Buhari made the remarks in Abuja, during her appointment as Consumer Ambassador of Nigeria, by the country’s Consumer Protection Council, as part of activities to mark the World Consumer Rights Day 2017.

Represented by the wife of Nasarawa State Governor, Mairo Tanko Almakura, she thanked the Management of the Consumer Protection Council for the honour bestowed on her.

She said: “The campaign for consumer rights is a noble cause and I assure the Commission of my support and commitment towards driving the campaign embarked by the council.”

The Director General of the Consumer Protection Council, Dupe Atoki, said digital technology, though beneficial, has exposed consumers to online threats such as cybercrime, data theft and invasion of privacy.

Atoki stated that this year’s theme tagged ‘Building a Digital World Consumers  Can Trust’ is intended to call attention to these consumer issues.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah and the Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu in their goodwill messages highlighted the important role of the Council in protecting the rights of consumers.

The agency said the stakeholders workshop, which is scheduled for Thursday, March 16, 2017 will feature presentations from Google, Microsoft, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), among others.