A French hacker was arrested this week after he spread a money stealing virus through various fake smartphone applications. The malware allowed the hacker to steal tiny sums of money from more than 17,000 Android phone owners.
By the time his skimming scam was discovered, the 20-year-old had taken €500,000 ($653,700).
According to the hacker, his smartphone scam was not motivated by greed but rather his love of technology and his desire to eventually become a software engineer. In reality, his scam was driven by money, enough so that he kept the hack going for nearly one year before he was caught.
Working out of his parents basement — yes, we know that’s a cliche — in Amiens, France, the man wrote free apps that were meant to look like commercial offerings. After users installed, the apps a text message was sent without the user’s permission or knowledge. That text message went to a paid number the man had set up to receive mobile payments.
The sophisticated hack also sent user credentials from gaming and gambling websites the victims had visited and used.
News of the hack comes just three months after security firm BT claimed that one-third of all Android based cell phones suffer from some sort of malware infection.
Malware found via Google Android devices are typically the result of users who download apps from stores outside of Google Play. In many cases, apps are not properly vetted and are allowed to be placed for sale despite included malware and other viruses or code issues that Google would normally find and remove.