PlaceRaider Smartphone Malware Secretly Photographs Your Surroundings
Posted on: 10/05/2012 06:22 AM

The Smartphone: Its a technological wonder, but you might not realize it. To put the amazingness of Android and iPhones in perspective, consider that just a few years ago in 1999 Nokia released the Nokia 3210, which had a whopping 3 games and state-of-the-art black and white screen (and even an internal antenna, wow!).

That Nokia, which sold 160 million units and was considered to be one of the most popular cell phones ever built, stands in the shadow of the smartphone revolution. Apple alone has sold about 350 million iOS devices (iPhones, iPads, iPods) to date, and that doesn't even include Android phones, Windows phones, or Blackberrys.

So whats with all the statistics? Theres a new way for identity thieves to get your information, and its via you smartphone. Developed by men at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane Indiana with a few friends at Indiana University, this app is capable of running in the background of any smartphone using the Android 2.3 operating system.

Its called PlaceRaider, and its very scary. The idea is that the malware would be embedded in a camera app that the user would download and run, a process that would give the malware the permissions it needs to take photos and send them.
PlaceRaider then runs in the background - taking photos at random while recording the time, location and orientation of the phone (don't forget how many sensors are in that thing in your pocket!).

Then, the software sends photos to a central server. Here they are reconstructed into a 3D model of the user's space, using the information about orientation and location of the camera (there are already some non-malicious apps out there that can do 3D reconstruction from pictures, check out this one).

A bad guy can then browse this space looking for objects worth stealing and/or sensitive data such as credit card details, identity data or calendar details that reveal when the user might be away. Easy as pie!
So, if you have an Android phone, it might be the perfect time to make the switch to an iPhone 5!

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