If you aren’t careful, much of the tech you hold near and dear can be used against you. An app called PlaceRaider, for instance, can use your phone to build a full 3D map of your house, all without you suspecting a thing.
Developed by Robert Templeman at the Naval Surface Warfare centre and a few buddies from the University of Indiana, PlaceRader hijacks your phone’s camera and takes a series of secret photographs, recording the time, and the phone’s orientation and location with each shot. Using that information, it can reliably build a 3D model of your home or office, and let cyber-intruders comb it for personal information like passwords on sticky notes, bank statements laying out on the coffee table, or anything else you might have lying around that could wind up the target of a raid on a later date.
You might be asking yourself “why not just take video?” There are a couple of reasons. For one, users looking for things to steal found the 3D environments to be very useful in early tests of the app. More importantly, using photos and stitching them together after transmission minimizes the amount of data the phone has to be able to send, making the whole thing especially surreptitious.
That malware app was developed on Android for practical purposes — presumably because the Android is a particularly open and tinker-friendly OS — but there’s no reason it couldn’t show up on other mobile operating systems. From there, it’s a just a matter of tricking the mark into installing an app which quietly asks for permission to control your camera, all the time. Now might be a good time to start thinking about smartphone lens caps. [Technology Review]