Edward Snowden claims UK spooks can hack smartphones

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US whistleblower said smartphone users can do “very little” to stop GCHQ hacking devices and accessing user data

US whistleblower Edward Snowden claims smartphone users can do “very little” to stop Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) from accessing data on their devices.

Edward_Snowden-2The former intelligence contractor told BBC Panorama that GCHQ, which manages all communication data in the UK, has the power to hack into smartphones without user knowledge.

Powers that the intelligence agencies can access include turning a device off or on, monitoring calls and using camera functions, amongst others.

Snowden described a hacking training scheme called the “Smurf Suite” used by GCHQ to access smartphones.

“Dreamy Smurf is the power management tool which means turning your phone on and off with you knowing,” he said. “Nosey Smurf is the ‘hot mic’ tool. For example if it’s in your pocket, [GCHQ] can turn the microphone on and listen to everything that’s going on around you – even if your phone is switched off because they’ve got the other tools for turning it on.

“Tracker Smurf is a geo-location tool which allows [GCHQ] to follow you with a greater precision than you would get from the typical triangulation of cellphone towers.”

The Government and GCHQ have refused to comment on the claims.

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