Someone’s riffing off of Jay-Z, and it’s not something you’re going to want to download. A fake version of the rapper’s Magna Carta Holy Grail app circulated shortly before Independence Day, siphoning off information with an ironically anti-surveillance bent.
Security software company McAfee discovered the app, saying it sends information about the phone to a command and control server each time the phone restarts. On the front end, it looks to be exactly like the Jay-Z app, which was created with Samsung to promote and distribute one million copies of Jay-Z’s new album.
The legitimate software was programmed to release the album titled Magna Carta Holy Grail on July 4 to the first one million people who downloaded the app. The screen would change, giving those downloaders access to Jay-Z’s music three days before the album is released to the rest of the world.
The fake app was similarly programmed to change on July 4 to a screen denouncing surveillance all while collecting the phone’s information in the background. The screen showed a picture of U.S. President Barack Obama wearing headphones, with messaging that said things like, “Yes we scan,” “We are watching you,” and “Obey us.”
While likely not connected, the legitimate Jay-Z app has come under its own surveillance scrutiny. As noted by Billboard, rapper Killer Mike tweeted a screenshot of the different “app permissions” Jay-Z and Samsung’s app requested. It included access to the phone storage with permission to “modify or delete the contents of your USB sorage,” permission to prevent the phone from sleeping, access to your location, and more. Killer Mike said, “Naw, I’m cool,” indicating that he wouldn’t be downloading the app.
Surveillance has been a hot-button issue since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden released sensitive documents revealing a government data collection program called PRISM.
hat tip CNET