app-store

A multinational government group known as the Five Eyes intelligence alliance – the spy group comprising Canada, the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand – planned to hack Android phones by compromising both Google and Samsung app stores. The plan was revealed in newly-released Snowden files dating back to 2012, reports CBC News.

Five Eyes specifically sought ways to find and hijack data links to servers used by Google and Samsung’s mobile app stores [trying] to find ways to implant spyware on smartphones by intercepting the transmissions sent when downloading or updating apps.

The alliance planned to begin by analyzing traffic to the stores to identify the Internet usage habits of targets (such as which apps they used), but the ultimate goal was to plant spyware that would enable them to extract data from targeted smartphones, or even to take control of them … 

As the five nations involved in the alliance have a joint agreement not to spy on each other’s citizens, they targeted app servers located in France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Cuba, Morocco, the Bahamas and Russia.

The agencies were reportedly successful in exploiting weaknesses in UC Browser, a popular Android browser in China, India and other emerging markets as it compresses data to reduce usage charges.

The NSA, Google and Samsung all declined to comment when contacted by CBC. Google was one of a number of tech companies asking President Obama to reject calls for government access to encrypted data.

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