Published: Sun, July 21, 2019
Tech | By Anita Cain

Google withdrew the Play store Stalkerware applications

Google withdrew the Play store Stalkerware applications

Noted anti-virus and security firm Avast said they have come across at least seven spying apps in the Google Play Store which they have promptly brought to the notice of Google, which in turn also did a nice job by removing those from the Play Store quickly enough.

With the apps it was possible to stalk employees, children or partners. And what's even crazier is the fact that these apps are actually kind of popular - in fact, they have a combined installed count of 130,000.

The app at that point prompts the person who installed the app to enter their email address and password.

"These apps are highly unethical and problematic for people's privacy and shouldn't be on the Google Play Store", said Nikolaos Chrysaidos, Avast's head of mobile threat intelligence and security. They encourage criminal behavior and can be abused to spy on their victims by employers, stalkers or abusive associates. Basically, these apps were flawless tools for cyber stalkers.

After the news was reported in June, CooTek claimed it removed affected applications and updated Google Store with new, clean versions of its apps. After the research surfaced, CooTek promised it would abandon BeiTaAd, but the updated apps accepted into the Google Play Store still appeared to contain a code that enabled similar ads, as was discovered by BuzzFeed and Lookout. Installing these stalker apps on any phone is as simple as heading to the Play Store and tapping install. Google also confirmed that the hundreds of CooTek apps on the Play Store are being removed and that over 60 are already gone. Parents are responsible for every step that their kids make. Malicious advertising practices are not uncommon in China even among major developers as evidenced by CooTek, a large, US-listed Chinese app developer with hundreds of apps and users in 240 countries, according to its website. Notify the users of work phones that you are going to install the app.

If you're unfamiliar with the phrase, "stalkerware" involves giving a third party access to another user's device, location data, and other sensitive information.

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