Google removes seven stalkerware apps from Play Store
- The seven stalkerware apps include Track Employees Check Work Phone Online Spy Free, Spy Kids Tracker, Phone Cell Tracker, Mobile Tracking, Spy Tracker, SMS Tracker, and Employee Work Spy.
- Out of these seven apps, Spy Tracker, and SMS Tracker are the most installed apps with more than 50,000 installs each.
Mobile threat researchers at Avast have detected seven stalkerware apps on the Google Play Store that allow people to stalk employees, partners, or kids. These apps were all likely developed by a Russian developer and have been installed by over 130,000 users.
What are the capabilities of the apps?
These stalkerware apps are capable of spying on victims and tracking a person’s location, SMS, call history. These apps can also collect victims’ contact details.
The person who wants to spy a person can download the app from the Google Play Store and install it on the targeted person’s device. The app then asks the person who installed the app to enter his/her email address and password. The spying app is then sent to the email address.
The person can also hide the surveillance by providing directions to uninstall anything noticeable to the device’s owner. Upon which, there is no app icon, so the targeted person cannot see any sign of the stalkerware app installed on their phone.
What are the names of the apps?
The seven apps reported by Avast researchers are
- Track Employees Check Work Phone Online Spy Free
- Spy Kids Tracker
- Phone Cell Tracker
- Mobile Tracking
- Spy Tracker
- SMS Tracker
- Employee Work Spy
Out of these seven apps, Spy Tracker, and SMS Tracker are the most installed apps with more than 50,000 installs each. All these seven apps have been removed by Google from its official Play Store.
“These apps are highly unethical and problematic for people’s privacy and shouldn’t be on the Google Play Store. They promote criminal behavior, and can be abused by employers, stalkers or abusive partners to spy on their victims. We classify such apps as stalkerware, and using apklab.io we can identify such apps quickly, and collaborate with Google to get them removed,” said Nikolaos Chrysaidos, head of mobile threat intelligence and security at Avast.