A Major Cybersecurity Threat Is Lurking on a Half-Billion U.S. Smartphones

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100114_phone_618Gary Milief­sky — CEO of Snoop­Wall and found­ing mem­ber of the U.S. Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty — joined Bret Baier for an exclu­sive inter­view on The Dai­ly Bret to dis­cuss an alarm­ing pri­va­cy breach posed by smart­phone flash­light apps.

Milief­sky, who has advised two White House admin­is­tra­tions on cyber­se­cu­ri­ty, said that this prob­lem is big­ger than Ebo­la because 500 mil­lion peo­ple are infect­ed and they don’t know it.

Milief­sky explained that the top 10 flash­light apps cur­rent­ly avail­able at the Google Play store are all malware.

They’re mali­cious, they’re spy­ing, they’re snoop­ing and they’re steal­ing,” he said, adding that that stolen infor­ma­tion has pri­mar­i­ly flowed into three coun­tries: Chi­na, India and Russia.

Milief­sky added that the stolen data is used main­ly for crim­i­nal pur­pos­es, but if one of those states wants infor­ma­tion on Amer­i­cans, they now have eas­i­er access.

He said that he had his team at Snoop­Wall start look­ing into the flash­light apps when he noticed that his per­son­al smart­phone was open­ing up his GPS and con­tacts with­out his knowledge.

This is brand-new infor­ma­tion. Top 10 flash­light apps — half a bil­lion down­loads — all act­ing in a very mali­cious way.”

As for what to do if you have one of these apps installed on your phone, Milief­sky rec­om­mend­ed delet­ing the app and tak­ing the phone to where you pur­chased it for a fac­to­ry reset.

Sum­ma­ry: We test­ed and installed the Top 10 Android Flash­light Apps on var­i­ous smart­phones and tablets. Win­dows and Apple iOS flash­lights behave in a sim­i­lar fash­ion, how­ev­er, more restrict­ed in their spy­ing capa­bil­i­ties due to the hard­ened OS fea­tures of Win­dows 8.1RT and Apple iOS 7 & 8.

141015.flashlight.app.assess.smAll of the appli­ca­tions above appear to obtain access and infor­ma­tion way beyond the needs of a Flash­light. Some appear specif­i­cal­ly designed to col­lect and expose your per­son­al infor­ma­tion to cyber­crim­i­nals or oth­er nation states. In addi­tion, you are at sig­nif­i­cant risk if you are doing Mobile Bank­ing on the same device as one of these free Flash­light Apps.

Our strong rec­om­men­da­tion is to unin­stall your flash­light app immediately.


Down­load Report

Watch the inter­view with Bret Baier.