20-year-old student pleads to making spy app for Android phone



A 20-year-old student of Carnegie Mellon University has pleaded guilty to developing and selling malicious software that allowed others to remotely control Google Android phones, including using the phones' cameras to spy on their owners.

Morgan Culbertson, a resident of Churchill, could face up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines when he is sentenced Dec. 2.

However, it is unclear that how many phones were actually infected by malicious software after his court appearance before a federal judge in Pittsburgh.

It is said that if anyone’s phone gets infected from the app, it can remotely control by others and used to spy and secretly take pictures without the phone owner's knowledge. It also records calls, intercept text messages and otherwise steal information the owners downloaded on the devices.

According to a news report published in IndiaToday, he is one of 12 people charged by U.S. authorities, and the fourth to plead guilty so far, in the worldwide takedown of the Darkode.com cybercriminal marketplace.

Almost 70 other people have been targeted for allegedly using the cybercriminal marketplace where hackers bought and sold malicious software.

"I committed the crime, so I am responsible," Culbertson said after pleading guilty, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I understand what I did was wrong and I take full responsibility. I would like in the future to use may skills to help protect people."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Kitchen said that Culbertson worked online with a man identified only as "Mike from the Netherlands" to create Dendroid, the malware that was secretly linked to Android phone apps available for purchase through Google Play.
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