Pokemon Go 'a western cyber-espionage tool'?
Cyber-security experts in Russia are concerned about the data collecting abilities of apps such as Pokemon Go, even speculating whether they were specifically created by western security services as cyber-espionage tools
Speaking to SCMagazineUK.com, Alexander Gorokhov, a former Major-General of the Russian Federal Security Service, commented that modern mobile applications may become a highly-effective tool of industrial and cyber-espionage, posing a threat to the national security of both Russia and also Western states.
Gorokhov says that the ever growing popularity of Pokemon Go and other similar applications have sparked serious concerns within Russia's special services as well as their Western colleagues, due to the ability of such devices to gain unauthorised access to classified data and other types of espionage. (See yesterday's comment from Ken Munro on Pokemon capabilities).
While not specifically saying that Pokemon is part of a Western spying plot, that was the implication of Gorokhov's comments that such applications may be the latest developments of special services of particular states and may be used for the theft of personal data of their owners and other cyber-crimes.
An official spokesman of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs department tackling cyber-crimes told SC that the Ministry is currently considering recommending that Russian state bodies introduce a ban on the use of certain mobile applications to some Russia officials and support staff, amid the fears of leakage of personal data. Israel's defence force has already banned the use Pokemon in the occupied Golan Heights for the same reason.
Sergei Hodakov, head of the IT-Cluster of the Skolkovo, (a high technology business district being built at the city of Skolkovo near Moscow), and one of Russia's leading analysts in the field of cyber-safety, told SC, that in addition to industrial espionage, modern mobile applications are currently widely used by cyber-criminals to steal money, as well as for extortion.
Moreover the infection of such mobile applications with malicious software could result in breaking the systems of online banking services and banking accounts of the owners of such applications.
Nikolay Patrushev, head of the Security Council of Russia, a consultative body of the Russian President that formulates the President's policy on national security affairs, notes how these mobile applications may be used as tracking devices following the movement of their holders, vehicles and even troops, due to their ability to pass coordinates of their owners via the Internet and other communication channels.