Google removes 7 Google Play Store spying apps. Google has removed seven Google Play Store applications designed to spy on staff, romantic partners, and kids. Security firm Avast revealed to Google on Tuesday four apps that allowed individuals to monitor whereabouts of a user, see their contact list, text messages, and even call history.
Google Removes 7 Google Play Store Spying Apps
The following day, three more applications were identified by the same business which was also designed for snooping. Google, which has a policy banning apps “secretly monitoring or harming users,” removed the apps soon after the reports. Users had installed the seven apps 130,000 times.
These are the Seven Apps that are banned from the Google Play Store:
- Spy Kids Tacker
- Phone Cell Tracker
- Mobile Tracking
- Spy Tracker
- SMS Tracker
- Employee Work Spy
- Track Employees Check Work Phone Online Spy Free
People on their Android devices who have these applications should delete them. The malicious applications can be concealed on devices, unfortunately for users, possibly making it hard for individuals to realize they are even present.
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People who are concerned about their phone’s applications can back up their sensitive data on those systems to the cloud services of Google and then wash the machine using the directions here.
Apps such as these have many uses, according to Nikolaos Chrysaidos, Avast’s head of mobile threat intelligence. A major use: domestic abuse. “Besides being a terrible breach of privacy, the stalker was can be directly linked with domestic violence,” says Chrysaidos.
“These applications are extremely unethical and should not be on the Google Play Store as employers, stalkers or abusive associates can use them without their understanding or approval to spy on their victims.”
Google claims it utilizes automation, plus “a team of professionals” to review applications submitted to ensure that the applications fulfill the company’s privacy requirements. The business will only create the applications in its app store afterward.
The applications slipped through the cracks in this case somehow. Google supplied its malicious app policy in reaction to Fortune. The firm did not answer a question about how these prohibited applications first came into the Play Store.
What about users of the iPhone?
Chrysaidos claims the threat may not have been completely removed from the app shop of Google. “We can’t be sure if the developer has other apps out there, but because they seem to work under different names, other apps may exist under other names,” Chrysaidos told Fortune in an email.
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Chrysaidos said that very little is known about the developer, except that it is based in Russia. Chrysaidos said comparable applications are unlikely to be accessible through Apple’s App Store because Apple has been checked more rigorously. “Stalkerware on iPhone has been reported, but they’re very rare,” says Chrysaidos.