New Delhi, May 22: If you are using the Google and Samsung app store, then you must know about the Irritant Horn. Project Irritant Horn as mentioned in the documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden aims at hijacking the Google and Samsung app store.
According to the documents, the NSA planned on hijacking the Google and Samsung app store in order to serve spyware on Android devices.
Project Irritant Horn aimed at compromising the servers behind Google and Samsung app stores and in turn would distribute surveillance malware on the smartphone. [How the Russians hacked Obama's email]
Conducting the man in the middle attacks:
The intention is to distribute surveilliance malware on to the app store. The malicious data would be injected into the app store servers. This in turn would transmit data between the app store and the end user i.e. the mobile user. Once the same was transmitted it would give the NSA control over the user's phone and through this the data can be ex-filtrated.
The documents reveal that the hacking platform XKeyScore was being used for the selection of targets. By selecting the targets using this hacking platform the NSA would be able to identify the mobile users by combining their online activities with the date on their mobile device. [Obama proposes USD 14 billion to boost cyber security]
India and China the prime targets:
The NSA would have found it relatively easy to undertake such an operation especially in India and China. There are privacy vulnerability issues on the UC mobile browser which is very popular in India and China. In India and China alone there are nearly a billion user of the UC mobile browser. Since there are privacy vulnerability issues on the UC browser, it would have been relatively to monitor the mobile phones.
The NSA however claimed that the use of Irritant Horn was only to track down terrorist activities in India and China. A similar claim had been made when the first time the Snowden files had come out. The big question was whether the NSA only snooped into data of terrorists or was it used against other important persons making policy decisions.
Irritant Horn is said to be a very fool proof operation. The NSA was planning to target the user by taking advantage of the privacy vulnerabilities on the UC browser. Experts say that the mobile user would have no idea that his data was being ex-filtrated into the hands of the NSA.
The user opens his UC browser normally like her or she would do every day. While the end user thinks he or she is browsing, in reality all the data on the cell phone including mails, messages, call records and location is being ex-filtrated into the files of the NSA.