Recently, the Kaspersky Lab research team discovered and reported the existence of an Android piece of malware named Skygofree that is highly-advanced and can be used to spy on the users and their message-related apps (Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, etc.) using a number of different methods. Here are some of the more notable capabilities of this espionage tool:
- Record audio from the device and send it to the hackers’ servers
- Track the location of the user’s device
- Keep tabs on the keystrokes of its victim – everything you type on your smartphone or tablet might be getting monitored.
- Record audio from the device’s environment
- Monitor your Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Viber messages (as well as messages from other similar apps).
The other known features of this highly-malicious malware piece you can read in its detailed analysis by Kaspersky on this page.
The spyware is active only in Italy and has been around since 2014
According to the report made by Kaspersky Lab, Skygofree has mainly affected users in Italy. Though this might sound odd and unusual at first, there is some evidence that suggest the espionage tool has actually been developed by Negg International – an Italian software company that is known for its cyber-security products as well as for its programs/apps that can be used by the law-enforcement to track down criminals.
The researchers from Kaspersky state that a lot of Negg-related strings were found within Skygofree which points to the conclusion that the Italian software security company, at the very least, had something to do with the creation of the malware. That said, nobody suggests that Negg has purposefully developed a spyware espionage too or at least, not for the purposes of spying on regular customers. As mentioned above, Negg are known for creating software tools for licensed investigators to help them track down actual criminals. However, as some suggests, it could be that Skygofree has fallen into the wrong hands and has since be used for criminal purposes such as spying on people with potentially criminal intentions.
Currently, it isn’t even clear if Negg was indeed responsible for the creation of the spyware and, as far as we know, there hasn’t been an official statement from the Italian security company regarding Skygofree.
On the topic of Android spyware, Vincente Diaz, the principal security researcher at Kaspersky, warns that it is likely that there will be more similar instances of such viruses getting developed in future as hackers are beginning to employ new methods for getting inside user’s devices and exploiting different parts of the devices’ systems.
If you suspect you might have an Android virus, please use our Android Malware Removal guide.