Australia and four of its allies allegedly planned to hack into app stores operated by Google and Samsung in order to plant spyware on smartphones, a media report has said.
The plan was discussed at meetings in 2011 and 2012 attended by Australian, New Zealander, US, British and Canadian intelligence services, a secret document leaked by former spy contractor Edward Snowden allegedly revealed.
The project was codenamed ‘Irritant Horn’ and would have allowed phone users’ data to be accessed by the spies, online news site The Intercept reported exclusively.
This would have given the government agencies such information as online searches, SIM card numbers and to track the person’s location in real time, as well as the ability to send misinformation to the phones to confuse suspects, the report said.
App store servers in Africa, France, Switzerland and Russia were reportedly some of the high-priority targets.
The spy agency allies reportedly would have exploited a weakness in a smartphone application popular in China and India.
Australia’s Signals Directorate refused to comment on the report, as did the US National Security Agency.