Security firm Lookout has detected a series of malicious mobile phone apps that can remotely control the infected smartphones. The app that goes by the name SonicSpy has at least three versions that made their way to the Google Play Store.
This has compromised the security of Android device users. The malware once installed on a device functions as a messaging app however in the background it takes over several functions of a device which includes the ability to send text messages, make calls, access contacts, and Wi-Fi data.
Lookout stated that the developer who came up with the malware is most probably based in Iraq. The developer fabricated close to a thousand messaging apps that were malicious in nature and were developed to hijack user's smartphone. The developer embedded spy functions into a public source code for a popular instant messaging app, Telegram and renamed the apps to Soniac, Hulk Messenger, and Troy Chat. The three apps got listed on Play Store.
Researchers at Lookout have confirmed that the apps were also being distributed through non-Google app platforms while there are speculations that the apps were also being fed to users through phishing apps.
It is rather surprising that the apps made their way to the Google Play Store after Google's recent efforts to identify and remove the suspicious malware apps from its app store using Artificial Intelligence. Google's security and privacy team expert Martin Pelikan had stated that Google will focus on signals that can negatively affect user privacy and yet the threat made it through.