Free Smartphone App Infected Millions of Users

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( — October 25, 2014)  — Ever wondered why the cool free smartphone app you just installed from Google Play store asks for your permission to access your personal data and Wi-Fi connection? Did you even notice? According to cyber security expert Gary Miliefsky, the moment users accept the download, they willingly give away their identity, contact card details, calendar, media files (personal photos and videos), camera and microphone, among other things.

In Fox News Special Report with Bret Baier, Miliefsky said he wondered why smartphone apps like flashlight need all your personal data and Wi-Fi connection to operate. What he discovered was shocking.

Miliefsky and his team from the internet security company SnoopWall, followed the trail of data from top ten free flashlight apps available for download from Google Play Store, and discovered it ends up mostly in China, India and Russia.

“Pretty much it seems that they use it for criminal purposes, but if a nation state [sic] wants to collect a lot of information on Americans, this is a great way to do it because everybody installs a flashlight app,” said Miliefsky.

Apparently, this cool free app installed in almost every smartphone on the planet, is just more than what we think it is, Milliefsky said. It is a Trojan horse that infected more than 500 million people, which is what makes it worse than Ebola. “We don’t even know we have it,” Miliefsky added.

“People reported this to FTC, and the number 2 flashlight app was sued by the FTC, and they just recently settled,” said Miliefsky. ”They had 50 million downloads at the time, and Brightest Flashlight, which most of us have on our smartphones, had to, in the settlement, agree to put up the privacy policy before you run that app.”

The privacy policy is a twenty-five page long document which discloses the app spies, geo-locates and downloads all user’s personal data. However, very few users actually bother to read the agreement.

“You don’t even have to scroll, the buttons [Accept or Decline] are right there on the front page of the new version of the Brightest Flashlight app, and they are at about 100 million downloads now,” said Miliefsky.

In order to get rid of the malicious app, in most cases it is not enough just to uninstall it. Users need to factory-reset their smartphones, deleting all the information on them.

This is not to say that users shouldn’t use a flashlight app at all. Instead, they need to look for one that is under 100 KB, because the spying apps tend to have a much larger file size, typically between 1.2 MB and 5 MB, added Miliefski.

Questioned “how big a deal” this is as we get more people with smartphones, and as almost every app that users install require personal data and Wi-Fi connection access, Milliefski said he is worried about kids and teenagers that can be geo-located.

“You give your kid an iPod or Android tablet and you let them play, and they install apps that do these things that geo-locate your children,” said Miliefsky.

Counter-surveillance expert and founding member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Gary Miliefsky, is the Founder of SnoopWall and the sole inventor of the company’s technologies. He has successfully advised two White House administrations on cyber security.