That little phone in your pocket is really a pretty amazing piece of technology: beyond making and receiving phone calls, it happily serves as a hub for nearly every other aspect of your life. Consider for a moment how many things are stored in your smartphone –your schedule? your photographs? your music? your passwords? While you contemplate this, be sure to exercise a little caution because research expert Szymon Sidor has discovered a security hole within Android that makes it possible for an app to not only take photographs behind the scenes (without your knowledge) but also upload the images to a remote server.
Through a series of development exercises, Sidor was able to confirm that photographs can be taken on your Android device (and subsequently sent off somewhere) without any visible preview on the screen –even when the app isn’t technically running or the screen is completely off.
Scary? Absolutely. Should you panic? Not at all.
Sidor recommends the following tips for protecting yourself against malicious apps:
- – Pay attention to permissions (which apps have access to which resources)
- – Take good care of your Google account (keep your password secure and change it from time to time)
- – Uninstall apps that you are no longer using
- – Be suspicious of sudden and unusual spikes in battery or bandwidth usage
- – Switch off apps using force stop to ensure background services are no longer running
For as long as technology has existed, malware and hackers have existed trying to exploit it. Your best defense is to remain aware, be cautious and employ good old-fashioned common sense.
Jillian Koskie is an experienced software developer, content writer, project manager and usability design expert. With over 17 years in these roles, Jillian has enjoyed applying her skill-set to assist clients and users across a wide variety of sectors including: legal, health, and financial services. Combining these professional opportunities with a love of technology, Jillian is pleased to contribute articles, opinions, and advice to numerous news outlets, websites, and publications.