The Smurf Suite is a collection of smartphone hacking and spyware tools that can remotely activate iPhones and Android devices and collect user data through eavesdropping and data access. According to the iPhone toolkit’s documentation, it can enable access to “SMS, MMS, e-mails, web history, call records, videos, photos, address book, notes and calendar” data.
How the Smurf Suite tool set works:
- Dreamy Smurf handles power management, activating the target phone by sending an encrypted SMS message that is undetectable to the user. According to security experts, the phone is probably outfitted with software that shifts it to low-power mode instead of turning off, which allows remote communications.
- Nosey Smurf turns on the device’s microphone; the hot mic enables eavesdropping even when the user thinks the device is powered off.
- Tracker Smurf activates GPS to enable more precise geolocation than is possible with cell tower triangulation.
- Paranoid Smurf hides all traces of the Smurf Suite so the malware cannot be detected by the user or a third party.
- Porus is a rootkit that enables administrative control.
The Smurf Suite was developed collaboratively by the United States National Security Agency (NSA), the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSES). In development, the malware tool kit was known as Warrior Pride. The suite was brought to the public’s attention in 2013 with Edward Snowden’s disclosure of classified information about government surveillance of citizens.
In this BBC interview, Edward Snowden explains how government agencies hack into smartphones without the user’s knowledge: