The FBI Can Activate Your Android Smartphone’s Microphone

Imagine this, you are talking to your friend at the mall or at your home but then your Android smartphone is secretly recording your conversation. It’s not doing this on its own though as it has been injected with a malware so that other people can spy on you or even copy the data that is on your device.


That’s a scary scenario right? But this is actually happening right now without the knowledge of the owner of the Android device and it is being conducted by the Federal Bureaue of Investigation. The Wall Street Journal has reported that law enforcement personnel of federal agencies are resorting to tools that are usually being used by hackers to gather information on suspects.

Spying on a suspect using this method requires a court order and even with this it still isn’t a reliable method to be used on a tech-savvy suspect. This is because the Android smartphone must first be infected with a malware which can be done when the person involved clicks on a shady link or opens an attachment. People with tech backgrounds usually don’t fall for this trap.

A former U.S. official with knowledge on this matter says that the agency does not usually resort to this method. It is only being used if it involves organized crime, counterterrorism, or child pornography.

Criminals today are using communication technology that is difficult to intercept which is why the FBI is using hacking tools. These tools are either developed internally or are bought from private companies. One major feature of these tools is that it can activate the microphone of an Android device and record any nearby sounds. The same tool also works on laptop microphones which can be used to record conversations.

If you’ve got nothing to hide then this really won’t be a problem however if you’re particular about your privacy then it’s best to avoid having malware infecting your smartphone. Installing a mobile security software on your device is one way to make it more secure.

via wsj


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  1. I hate it when someone trots out that tired, lame gibberish: “If you have nothing to hide then this really won’t be a problem….” When a person, an agency or a government wishes to control you for whatever reason, it doesn’t matter whether you have something to hide or not. Can we please strike that phrase from the English language ASAP, or at least have some Rule prohibiting its use in the AP StyleBook or something?

  2. This technology was around in July 2001 according to a History Channel CIA documentary from that time.

  3. “If you’ve got nothing to hide then you nothing to worry about” is the worst, most naive excuse for a surveillance state ever made. Everybody has something to hide, a lie to a boss/lover/teacher, a mistake they don’t want others to know about, a minor breach of an obscure law, the list goes on. The more the state intrudes into your life the more the very act of desiring privacy becomes criminal. What happens when you disagree with the government, when you become labelled a dissident? They will have enormous power over you with the knowledge they gain by spying on you. What safeguards are in place to prevent these powers being used maliciously? Sure, right now it’s “muslim terrorists” but one day it could be “eco terrorists”, “freedom from taxation terrorists”, “clean water terrorists”. It doesn’t take much for your political ideology to become the “Enemy”.

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