NSA Planned Hacking of Android Phones and Google Play Store

NSA, the National Security Agency, partnered with governments from four countries on a programmed attack seeking to infect millions of different smartphones with its spyware according to a recent report.

This program, codenamed Irritant Horn, was setup to hijack the connections of phones at app stores operated by Google and Samsung that would then allow spying by the agency on the different users’ devices.

The report was based upon internal documents from the NSA that were provided by Edward Snowden the former contractor and whistleblower of the NSA.

The group that was behind this plan was the network known as Five Eyes, a collection of surveillance agencies that were from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., New Zealand and Australia that are regular collaborators on cyber spying and espionage.

The information including all details of this plan was in a PowerPoint presentation, which was the basis for a number of workshops that were held in Australia and Canada between 2011 and 2012.

The presentation explained how NSA planned to use the hacking tool XKEYSCORE to launch an attack known as the man in the middle from Google and Samsung servers.

The tool allows the governments to wiretap all users who had supplied a personal email address according to published statements previously released by Snowden.

While reports earlier had already disclosed that NSA and Five Eyes had created a set of spyware to attack iPhone and Android devices, the most recent revelation indicates that the spying agency was interested as well in using this technique to plant certain misinformation on the phones of users.

The agency was particularly interested in the overall potential of this technology in disrupting and preventing citizen movement and protests.

The presentation described as well the vulnerability discovered by the NSA in the UC Browser application. Although the browser is not used widely across the Western World, it had close to 500 million users in China and India.

The exploit found would allow NSA to gain information that would let the organization to identify accurately the user of any device.