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This happened to me today, September 12, at about 6pm. Any ideas about what happened, what's going on, and what I should do?

I was at home alone with my 2 year old -- I was feeding her dinner. All of a sudden, I hear my mom's voice saying, "Bob, Bob, where are you?" This was highly unusual, since my mom lives in another city.

I spun around and after a few seconds, figured out that the voice was coming from my phone, which was on a high shelf. That's where I normally put it, way out of my kid's reach. The phone had been sitting on the shelf for at least half an hour or more. It was locked. I hadn't touched it, my kid hadn't touched it, there was nothing leaning on it.

I took the phone in my hand. Skype was running. Video, from my mom's side, was on -- I saw her on the screen. I could hear her and she could hear me. The video from my side was apparently off -- she could not see me and there was no video of myself on the screen. The time elapsed was approximately 1:30 when I got the phone.

(I am not 100% sure about the order of the following, since it happened in a short period of time, and I was still shocked that this was happening.) The phone (Android 4.4.2) was still locked. When I pressed the home button, it took me to the PIN screen. I entered my PIN. Then I saw the home screen.

The home screen was blinking. This has never happened before. I would see the homescreen for a moment, then the screen would be completely black. Then home screen again. It blinked on and off several times -- perhaps 10 or 15. While it was blinking, nothing I pressed appeared to work.

It finally stopped blinking and I got into Skype right away. (Skype was in the notification area -- that's where I pressed.) (This ends the sequence where I'm not 100% sure of the order of events.)

I talked with my mom for a few minutes, still shocked. I turned on my camera during the conversation.

Here is what my mom said happened, from her side. She went into Skype on her tablet. It showed that I was not signed in. This is correct, I was not signed in. I rarely sign into Skype. I only use it to call my mom. Me being her only son, she decided to try me anyway. I didn't pick up. (On my side, I did not hear anything.)

Then, after a few minutes, she received a Skype call from me!!! She picked up. She says she could hear me talk to my kid. After I hadn't said anything to her for awhile, she started talking.

After the conversation, I immediately uninstalled the Skype app.

About half an hour later, I disconnected my phone from the Google account. Then turned off my phone. The phone does not have a removable battery -- it's off as far as I know.

Then, on my computer, I went into Google Account Permissions and revoked my phone's access. Finally, I changed my Google password.

Incidentally, on September 2, Google warned me about "unusual activity". There were a bunch of sign-in attempts that Google prevented. The attempts were from the same city that I live in. I had changed my password after receiving the warning, but didn't do anything else.

What do you think?

  • 1
    something like this happened a lot back in 2011 apparently. perhaps the android build used an older windows build. – guest Sep 13 '14 at 3:45
  • 4
    If it was a computer I'd say nuke it from orbit and reinstall, but in case of such crap that some call "Android phone" you can't really do that, AFAIK phone manufacturers never put clean software images on their sites for users to reinstall, and using the phones built-in "factory reset" isn't secure since the malware may be still there. You'd have to install a custom ROM but then you need to trust whoever made that ROM which is risky as well. – user42178 Sep 13 '14 at 13:36
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While I would not count out malware/spyware, there is distinct possibility this is hardware malfunction. From the description I could say the touchscreen is defective (it or the ribbon cable). Do you have cracked glass/screen protection? In that case it is entirely possible for the phone to dial "on it's own". I've seen it on one phone already. It may be exacerbated if the phone was plugged in for charging. Also, but this is more on the line of a WAG - the phone can be damp inside? It can happen if it's in a pocket close to skin and under clothes. It's winter, so... possible. Sounds bit crazy, but had this issue as well. If you can take of back cover and let it dry in a warm place (but not too warm), you may also try that.

1

I'd blame Microsoft. Either their software just sucks and this isn't nefarious code, or they're trying to cook the books with fake activity for the last day of 2015, or it's some kind of backdoor? What else could it be?

I was just writing a comment on LinkedIn, then out of the blue (while I'm still typing in LinkedIn's app) my Skype dialed out to an unknown number. I have no idea who it called or why. I received no incoming call.

Also I'm using a VPN and have no reason to suspect a hacker in my phone. I'm not using a handset or Bluetooth.

0

I had a similar issue (but with calls to POTS lines) on my last android handset and couldn't resolve the issue with a factory reset ... so I returned it for a replacement from the store, it was well over a year old but apparently still covered by the manufacturer's warranty. The store clerk may be reluctant to replace your device if you can't replicate the issue.

It's difficult to determine weather your issue was caused by spyware, an active cyber attack or just buggy code from google & co. Either way ... replacing the hardware is the safest bet as commercially available android spyware is known to be resistant to factory reset and managed remote wipe.

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I'd suggest you enable 2 step authentication for your Google account. This fixes a lot of issues with security.

Also if you have it enabled, disable "allow installation of apps from sources other than play store". I should be under Settings->Security.

And I hear that if you are using your Microsoft account for Skype, then you can enable two factor authentication there too.

All the above suggestion will help only if the issue is because of spyware/malware.

If it was a buggy code from skype, you are out of luck.

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