Google is warning users of its 1.4 billion Android devices about a highly sophisticated spyware attack that completely takes over your smartphone. This malware accesses your phone’s camera and microphone, and that’s just the beginning.
This new malware, which is related to the Pegasus attack on Apple iPhones, gains access to everything on your phone. It can look at your messages, contacts, browsing history and, frighteningly, track your physical location.
It’s called Chrysaor (or Pegasus on Android). This sophisticated attack is believed to be the work of an Israel-based company called NSO. This company charges hundreds of thousands of dollars, usually to governments, to spy on people. NSO has described its malware as a “ghost.”
Chrysaor gains access to phones with a malicious app or with a text message. Both Google and the internet security company, Lookout have found evidence that Chrysaor is difficult for you to get rid of.
Even if your Android phone has a security software installed, Chrysaor can gain access. It asks users for permission for access and, since it looks like a regular app or text, many people give it permission.
More surprising, Chrysaor can uninstall itself. The malware is designed to detect if it’s been discovered. It can also block security patches.
It’s likely that Chrysaor right now is attacking people in only some countries including Israel, Turkey and Mexico. That’s due in part to the high cost of the malware.
Last year, Pegasus attacked iPhone users like a human rights activist in the Middle East. It’s believed that governments are using the malware to spy on their enemies.
The Android attack so far has affected about 40 people. Google scanned its 1.4 billion Android devices and found evidence of just a few attacks.
However, your Android device may be in danger. Keep reading Happening Now for updates on Chrysaor. As we’ve seen many times before, malware attacks tend to spread over time and affect many more people than the original attack.