New software uses smartphone camera for spying

Researchers from the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center have developed malicious software that can remotely seize control of the camera on an infected smartphone and employ it to spy on the phone’s user.

The malware, dubbed “PlaceRaider,” “allows remote hackers to reconstruct rich, three-dimensional models of the smartphone owner’s personal indoor spaces through completely opportunistic use of the camera,” the researchers said in a study published last week.

The program uses images from the camera and positional information from the smartphone’s gyroscopic and other sensors to map spaces the phone’s user spends a lot of time in, such as a home or office.

“Remote burglars” could use these three-dimensional models to “study the environment carefully and steal virtual objects [visible to the camera] … such as as financial documents [or] information on computer monitors,” the researchers reported.

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