Watch out for this fake Netflix app that can take over your phone and spy on you

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Cyber security experts have discovered a fake Netflix app that can take over your device and spy on you.

The app gives cyber criminals access to your smartphone’s microphone, camera and messages, meaning someone could potentially listen in on your conversations or even take photos of you without your knowledge.

The rogue app was discovered by cyber security firm Zscaler who describe it as a “well-crafted piece of spyware we’re calling SpyNote RAT.”

Speaking of the app, Shivang Desai from Zscaler said: “The iOS and Android apps for Netflix are enormously popular, effectively turning a mobile device into a television with which users can stream full movies and TV programs anytime, anywhere.

“But the apps, with their many millions of users, have captured the attention of the bad actors, too, who are exploiting the popularity of Netflix to spread malware.”

Fake Netflix app vs the official Netflix app. Image: zscaler.com

Fake Netflix app vs the official Netflix app. Image: zscaler.com

The good news is that the app has only been available to download from unofficial third party app stores and not the official Google Play Store.

The bad news is that the app looks almost identical to the official Netflix app. However, the malicious version installs a piece of software known as a trojan onto the victim’s smartphone.

When the user clicks on the icon of the app, it removes itself from the home screen, leading the user to believe the app has been removed from their phone.

However, this in fact activates the malware granting hackers access to photos, contact lists and text messages.

SpyNote was first discovered last year but this is the first time it has been disguised in a fake Netflix app.

The lesson here is to never download apps from third party app stores.

Jonathan Fairfield
Jonathan is our Google Nexus and Android enthusiast. He is also fanatical about football which makes it all the more strange that he should support Stockport County. In addition to writing about tech, Jonathan has a passion for fitness and nutrition and has previously written for one the UK's leading watch and horology websites.
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