Google Android users must check their phones are fully updated with the latest security patches, experts have warned.
The alert comes after a new threat has been uncovered which could leave certain devices open to serious attack from hackers.
This shock new issue was discovered by the team at Checkmarx who spotted a flaw that could allow attackers to access the camera on some Android devices.
Once targeted, it would then be possible for criminals to use the cameras to spy on those affected.
Explaining more, Checkmarx's Erez Yalon explained: “After a detailed analysis of the Google Camera app, our team found that by manipulating specific actions and intents, an attacker can control the app to take photos and/or record videos through a rogue application that has no permissions to do so.
“Additionally, we found that certain attack scenarios enable malicious actors to circumvent various storage permission policies, giving them access to stored videos and photos, as well as GPS metadata embedded in photos, to locate the user by taking a photo or video and parsing the proper EXIF data.
“This same technique also applied to Samsung’s Camera app.”
To prove this flaw is real the researchers say they created a proof-of-concept which was disguised as a weather app.
Once installed, it essentially creates a persistent connection back to a server and waits for commands and instructions from the attacker.
Even closing the app doesn't terminate the persistent connection.
Checkmarx says the hackers could then perform the following acts on the phone without the user ever knowing:
• Take a photo on the victim’s phone and upload (retrieve) it to the C&C server
• Record a video on the victim’s phone and upload (retrieve) it to the C&C server
• Parse all of the latest photos for GPS tags and locate the phone on a global map
• Operate in stealth mode whereby the phone is silenced while taking photos and recording videos
• Wait for a voice call and automatically record:
– Video from the victim’s side
– Audio from both sides of the conversation
After it discovered the flaw, Checkmarx went straight to Google who since released a fix which stops any future attacks of this nature from happening.
In response, Google said: “We appreciate Checkmarx bringing this to our attention and working with Google and Android partners to coordinate disclosure.
“The issue was addressed on impacted Google devices via a Play Store update to the Google Camera Application in July 2019. A patch has also been made available to all partners.”
Along with Google phones, it's also known that Samsung devices could also be targeted so it's vital to make sure your device is fully updated with the very latest software.
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