Don’t worry, this article isn’t about phones catching fire; that was only an issue in 2016.

But nearly as frightening, at the tail end of 2019, security researchers discovered that millions of Android phones have security loopholes that enable hackers to “remotely take photos, record video, spy on your conversations by recording them as you lift the phone to your ear, identify your location and more”.

A hacker can potentially take control of a phone’s functions through any available application. Instructions that hackers could potentially send via an app include:

  • Snap photos and upload them to a command server
  • Record videos and upload them to a command server
  • Record audio from both sides of a voice call
  • Record video of a phone’s user during a voice call
  • Capture information that can be used to track a phone owner’s location

And beyond.

The type of data, volume of data and potential for misuse of the data that can be gathered through this process is alarming. In theory, a hacker could obtain and sell GPS data of a high profile individual to a foreign adversary, for example. The foreign adversary could then –either figuratively or literally- upend a person’s life.

“We recommend that all users keep their devices updated with the latest software to ensure the highest level of protection possible,” stated one spokesperson. Patches have been released since this issue was first reported, but the severity of this issue is one of many that brings our modern reliance on smart phones into question.

For more on this story, visit CNN Business.