The National Security Agency planned to infiltrate the Google and Samsung app stores to plant spying software on smartphones, according to new documents published from files leaked by Edward Snowden.
The Intercept and CBC News jointly published the documents Thursday, which outline the snooping efforts designed by the U.S. and its “Five Eyes” alliance: Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.
The intelligence agencies came up with the strategy as a potential way to hack smartphones. The pilot project was code-named “IRRITANT HORN.”
Essentially, the agents sussed out smartphone Internet traffic by browsing through its Web traffic database created under the XKeyscore program. They would then track down those phones’ connections to an app marketplace. Once identified, agents could hijack that connection to the app store and use it as a delivery system to plant spyware on the device.
These “implants” could gather data from the phone, including emails, texts, browsing history, call logs, videos and photos.