Whistleblower Edward Snowden has given an interview to BBC investigative programme Panorama in which he's added further detail on an array of tools named after the Smurfs* that allow UK intelligence agencies to hack smartphones.
Privacy International has already aired much of what Snowden explained to Panorama, namely that a tool called “Nosey Smurf” turns on a phone's microphone to use it for audio surveillance. Snowden also discussed “Dreamy Smurf”, which he says can turn a phone on or off. “Tracker Smurf” is a geo-location tool that Snowden says offers a more accurate method of locating a phone and its carrier than using triangulation. Another Smurf can operate a smartphone's camera.
“Paranoid Smurf” does its best to hide the activities of the other Smurfs, Snowden said, so that someone skilled enough to repair a phone won't find traces of the other Smurfs' work.
The Smurf army arrives by TXT messages, Snowden says, without users ever being aware of the message or its payload arriving or altering their phones in any way.
The interview also repeats and expands upon previous allegations that the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) was able to compromise Cisco routers used in Pakistan, gaining the ability to monitor government and civilian communications within the country.
GCHQ has offered no comment in response to Snowden's allegations, which can be accessed in full here for readers in the UK. ®
*Not after actual fictitious Smurfs, like Papa Smurf, Vanity or Smurfette - but after made-up fictitious Smurfs.