Tech Security & Resource Center
3 Identity Snatching Apps You May Have Already Installed On Your Mobile Phone
For hackers, the game has changed. They are finding it much easier to steal your information, not by using their hacking skills but by letting you hand it to them on a silver platter. Your mobile phone is a goldmine of information. With GPS, banking information and social media info stored on your mobile phone. You are giving away information about who you communicate with, where you drive to and where you spend your money. It use to be hard for hackers to find detailed information about you, now you’re helping them by streaming info to them on a daily basis.
Understandably, it’s hard to know if an app is dangerous or not with so many apps available on both Apple and Android stores (1.3 and 1.5 million apps respectively) so I’m going to list the most creative apps I found that are mining data from millions of unsuspected users this year.
Disclaimer: By the time you read this article some of these apps may have changed their mode of operation but it will be up to you to determine if it is safe to download these or any other app on your mobile device.
If you bought a mobile phone within the last 18 months, chances are your mobile phone came bundled with a flashlight app but you may feel the need to download another flashlight app because the app on your phone may be hard to find or you’re looking for extra features. I personally like the Magnifying Glass app that illuminates like any other flashlight but adds a camera zoom feature so I can read hard to see labels, menus and any miniature item I wanted to zoom in to see. It also allows you to take a picture of your zoomed in view with the flashlight illumination but before I found this gem of an app, several months ago, I downloaded a flashlight app with a cute feature, a flashing S.O.S. light for signaling others. Even though I haven’t gone camping in years, a flashing S.O.S. light sounded like a great feature for emergencies.
After I downloaded the app, I notice that the app took up a whopping 80 megabytes of space on my mobile phone’s memory. That might not sound like a lot of space since even the cheapest mobile phone will have at least 2 Gigabyte of space to work with, I just knew a simple flashlight app shouldn’t take up more than 15 Megabytes of space at the most. So, on a hunch, I decided to run a quick data usage program for mobile phones and found out that this flashlight app was uploading data to multiple unknown IP addresses. What did my flashlight app need to upload data for? I just wanted to play with the S.O.S. feature.
What I didn’t know at the time is that I downloaded a very sophisticated SDMA (secret data mining app) that tracked my every movement to sell to survey companies. This is a new phenomenon that security experts have been warning us about for years because we carry our phones everywhere. Every time we go to the store, visit a fast food restaurant or go to work, our phones are tracking us and this information is valuable. Internet surveyors don’t need to know your name or social media account. They really don’t care about you as an individual. They want information about your demographics. The neighborhood you live in, your ethnicity, shopping habits, eating habits and your mobile phone gives them most of that information. In the past, (and even today) a typical survey company employee calls you to participate in a survey. If you answer the call and are nice enough to answer their questions, are you really going to tell the truth about how many times you visit McDonald’s or Taco Bell or even how many times you’ve gone to the dentist? You may not remember all the details about your life or may not want to share them with a total stranger over the phone but your mobile phone can tell them everything they need to know. Not only will your mobile phone tell the truth about your whereabouts and habits, it can remember details about your life you simply can’t remember.
Google, through Android as well as Apple iPhones also track our everyday movements but at least this information is shared with us to tell us where we last parked our car or when it’s time to leave to get to our set appointment on time via Google Now or an Apple app. Yes, this information could and are sold to companies that want to mine data about us as a whole but this information is given a two-way streak to give us benefits we now feel we can’t live without like GPS maps and social media. Another difference between Google/Apple and an SDMA is the amount of information it accumulates. The flashlight app I downloaded was uploading much more data than my phone’s operating system and any other apps on my phone combined. Eating uploads of my data usage allowance. Now, I will admit when I uploaded this flashlight app, I didn’t pay attention to the fact that the app did mention that it will upload information using my data but who really pays attention to this information before hitting the download/accept button… Well, now I do.
I found 3 other flashlight apps with the same SDMA programs embedded. I would suggest steering clear of all of them and use the flashlight app that came with your mobile phone. If for some reason you do need to download a flashlight app on your mobile phone, check to see how big the file happens to be after you downloaded it. If it’s more than 3 megabytes, dump it. It may be trouble.
The Ultimate Trojan Horse
If I tried to give you something for free, your human instincts should kick in and question my motives. Am I giving it away as an enticement for you to purchase something else or am I inducing you to give up personal information about yourself? The genius behind Showbox is that it offers something so valuable for free that many people will bypass their mobile phone’s safeguard to download it. Illegal free movies have been available on the web and mobile apps for years now. What makes Showbox so enticing is how beautiful and organized it is. Instead of showing a text list of movies and TV shows available, Showbox uses up to date movie posters and TV show images and looks very similar to Netflix, Hulu and other paid media services. Another way that Showbox gives the look of legitimacy is the fact that it serves ads on its app. I’m amazed by how many people believe this is a legitimate company giving them another unique way to view TV shows and movies but I’m amazed by the fact that most individuals who download the app don’t realize how dangerous it is to bypass the Android and Apple app stores to download an app from an unknown source. Since apps similar to torrent apps like Showbox are not required to tell you what information they are receiving from your mobile phone. The app would have perfect access to view your bank or credit card information from your mobile banking apps or act as an SDMA. The app file is huge. With millions of mobile phones suspected to have downloaded the app, Showbox and other torrent programs that use secret data mining app (SDMA) structures make it the perfect platform to upload Trojan Horses or bots that lay dormant until it’s needed to attack other computers, mobile phones or websites.
It is reported that most of Showbox videos are hosted on Russian servers and the app is very sophisticated and fluid. New videos are constantly being uploaded and taken down to limit a torrent trail that authorities have a hard time following. So far nothing major has been reported about Showbox uploading major data or causing problems for mobile phones or computers.
Other free movie apps have been rumored to have Russian and Ukranian mob ties. Even though I believe that these rumors are speculative since there are countries on every continent that are using these types of torrent SDMA apps. It wouldn’t be surprising if there were some ties to organized criminal activity. Apps such as Popcorn Time, TV Portal and Flixtor are alternative torrent based websites and apps that may have started as altruistic gifts for the masses made by individuals who just wanted to free up movies and TV shows for everyone to enjoy but apps such as these have been hijacked by hackers in the past who happens to work for criminal outfits who are only interested in finding the easiest way to get to your personal information. If you are downloading apps for free media, be cautiously aware of your phone’s upload activity. SDMA’s slow down your mobile phone’s performance as well as take up precious data usage you pay for. Your personal information and paid data is now the easiest way for hackers and organized crime to get rich. Stay aware.[tsp-featured-posts]
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