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Android Malware turns your phone into a tracking device

September 1, 2017

Trend Micro, a Dutch cybersecurity firm has recently came across a malicious malware designed to allow third party individuals to take control of your devices without your permission specifically for Android devices. This discovery came just weeks after a similar malware was discovered which gathers private patient data from hospitals in Israel.

Researchers from Trend Micro has named this malware as GhostCtrl. The firm has successfully detected at least three different variations of the said malware. The first two are designed to gather several kinds of data and to remotely take over certain features on mobile devices while the third kind combines both functions of the first two variants plus an added feature.

Worst is that it was found by the same researchers that there are chances of this particular malware to evolve and have more dangerous functions in the future. GhostCtrl was found to be actually an extension of the worm previously discovered to be SMS Tracker Android and extracting data from Israeli hospitals and that of OmniRAT, a popular malware that was used to remotely hack different computer operating systems including Mac, Windows and Linux systems including Android devices.

More alarming is the fact that this malware is masquerading as popular legitimate apps such as Pokemon Go and WhatsApp. When downloaded and launched, the app installs the hidden APK that contains the said malware as it runs in the background with the user completely unaware of its existence and the damage that is already creating for your device’s privacy.

Once run, third party individuals can hack into this backdoor APK and remote control the infected device. Not only does this malware allow tracking of online activity but the same includes the remote control execution of a wide range of user commands in a particular infected device. Hackers can specify their target commands and content in a specific device all without the owner’s consent and even knowledge. Some of the dangerous functions that this malware can do to you device include real-time tracking of your sensors’ data, sending SMS and making calls to anyone registered in a contact list, deleting and modifying files downloaded in your device, and collecting other private information such as text message records, call logs and recent locations.

Other than those mentioned, GhostCtrl has been found to have the capacity to reset passwords, play music and other media on your device, record audio and video, control bluetooth and wireless activities. All of these are done remotely and without permission nor knowledge of the device’s user. All this means that once infected, your mobile device is nothing but a mobile tracking device equipped to track you and all that you do, the user.

Trend Micro therefore advises all Android users to constantly update their phones and apps. Updating to the latest Android version would be one of the best ways to steer away from getting infected by this malware. Users are also advised to restrict certain user permissions on their devices. A regular back-up of their phone’s data is also recommended so as not to lose important files and media downloaded in your phone.

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