NSA can listen, take photos and locate the phone even when turned off.
The former U.S. spy, Edward Snowden, said in an interview published Monday by the BBC that British intelligence services are able to gain “total control” of mobile phones.
The former analyst with the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) detailed from Moscow, where he moved to in 2013 to escape U.S. persecution, the characteristics of a software called “Smurf Suite”.
This is a group of programs that, according to Snowden, British spying agency, GCHQ, uses to manipulate smartphones.
“With ‘Dreamy Smurf’ they can turn off and on your phone without your knowledge. ‘Nosey Smurf’ is the tool that handles the microphone. For example, if the phone is in your pocket, they can activate the microphone and hear everything that happens to your around even if the phone is off,” said the former NSA analyst.
Another application allegedly used by the secret services is ‘Tracker Smurf’, a geolocation tool that allows to follow the footsteps of someone with “more precision than you would get by the usual method of triangulation between cell towers.”
There is also a program called ‘Paranoid Smurf’, which makes it difficult for the rest of spy applications to be detected. The latter program “is a self-defense tool to manipulate your terminal.
For example, if the phone if someone takes their phone to a technician because he believes something strange has happened, “the program makes it much more difficult to realize that something is wrong,” Snowden said. “They can do much more, they can even photograph you,” said Snowden.
According to him, secret agencies can gain access of any phone via a text message that would go unnoticed for whoever is the object of monitoring. “It is called an ‘exploit’. It is a message intended to be sent to a phone number, like any other, but when it reaches the terminal it remains hidden, not shown to the user,” he said.