The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is able to remotely listen to and record audio from Google Android devices and personal computers (PCs).
According to a new report in the Wall Street Journal, the agency controls hacking tools that offer spyware and other malware software options for hacking consumer and business devices.
The report suggests that the FBI only uses its hacking tools under court order. The tools are used only when normal wiretapping can not be accomplished for whatever reason.
The FBI calls the process "going dark," and it involves purchased hacking tools and a set of FBI created options.
A former security expert for the FBI tells the WSJ that the FBI "hires people who have hacking skill, and they purchase tools that are capable of doing these things."
While most of the FBI's intrusion methods are top secret, some of their practices have been discovered. In one case, a simple keylogger was installed on a mobster's computer. Sometimes computers are accessed through malicious URLs while other techniques have included gaining physical access to an Android device or PC. Installing the FBI's software can be as easy as plugging in a thumb drive.
In instances when the FBI hasn't been able to gain physical access on its own, it has asked companies to provide surveillance backdoors and other company systems.
Unlike the NSA PRISM program, the FBI Android and PC monitoring solutions are only activated with court order on a case-by-case basis.
The current report only mentions Google Android devices, but that does not mean similar spying tools are not being implemented on iOS, Windows Phone, and other smartphones.
Are you surprised that the FBI is using hacking tools to monitor Google Android and personal computers?