‘PlaceRaider’ Malware Could Generate 3D Environments

(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – Will hackers one day be able to use your phone to steal away the layout of your living space? Concept developers from Indiana University and the Naval Surface Warfare Center rolled out the idea last Thursday with something called PlaceRaider, noting that a smartphone’s “onboard sensor suites” could be used for malware activity.

“Through completely opportunistic use of the phone’s camera and other sensors, PlaceRaider constructs rich, three dimensional models of indoor environments. Remote burglars can thus `download’ the physical space, study the environment carefully, and steal virtual objects from the environment (such as nancial documents, information on computer monitors, and personally identiable information),” explain the researchers via a whitepaper.

To show the concept was possible, those in charge of the study used mobile operating system Android, installing the PlaceRaider application and allowing it to run in the OS’s background, independent of other applications. Researchers were then able to generate 3D models via programs like Bundler and PMVS, based off of “20 raw images.”

The testers, meanwhile, have suggested mobile developers implement a number of changes to avoid such a threat including persistent shutter sounds, permission for sensors, a PlaceRaider detector and requiring users to push an actual physical button when capturing pictures.