New Malware Attacks Smartphone, Computer to Eavesdrop

Malicious software, called malware, can also get onto a computer through a USB key.
Jeffrey Hamilton | Digital Vision | Getty Images
Malicious software, called malware, can also get onto a computer through a USB key.

A recently discovered new form of Android malware called DroidCleaner cannot only infect your smartphone, but also target your PC to spy on you.

Researchers at the security firm Kaspersky Labs have uncovered new malware which poses as a "cleaner" app — or an app used to free memory on Google's OS — in the Google Play app store. Once an Android user downloads the app, the malware infects the user's smartphone and can also be uploaded to the users PC if they plug the device into their Windows computer in the USB drive mode.

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While the malware that attacks the smartphone is more sophisticated than the malware that infects the PC, according to Kaspersky, the primary function of the malware that installs on the computer is pretty invasive.

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The malware that runs on an infected users' PC can take over control of the microphone on a PC and use it to eavesdrop. As soon as the microphone detects sound, it can begin to record the audio and then send it back to the cyber criminals.

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Kaspersky points out, however, that if a user has a current version of Microsoft Windows, then the function that automatically allowed the malware to be installed will not work because the setting is disabled on current versions. The PC attack is really focused at users that are using older versions of Microsoft Windows.

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As for the malware installed on a user's smartphone, Kaspersky researcher Victor Chebyshev said in a blog post that it was the first time his firm has seen "such an extensive feature set in one mobile application."

Some of the functions the malware can perform on an infected device include:

  • Sending SMS messages
  • Enabling Wi-Fi
  • Gathering information about the device
  • Opening arbitrary links in a browser
  • Uploading the SD card's entire contents
  • Uploading all SMS messages
  • Deleting all SMS messages
  • Uploading all the contacts/photos/coordinates from the device master

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