Google has been implementing a lot of systems to detect such evil apps, with things like Google Play Protect, but the fact that they still made it through to the Play Store and people could still be actively using them to spy on others without their knowledge is simply unacceptable.
While the apps were pushed as ways to monitor children or employees, Nikolaos Chrysaidos, Avast's head of mobile threat intelligence and security, said "they promote criminal behavior, and can be abused by employers, stalkers or abusive partners to spy on their victims".
A host of apps charged with "stalking" users has been removed from the Google Play marketplace, according to a new report. The tech giant quickly removed them from its Play Store, but they had already been downloaded a total of 130,000+ times, with two of them- Spy Tracker and SMS Tracker-each having gained over 50,000 installs.
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Security firm Lookout discovered that 238 offending apps, installed over 440 million times, contained a well-hidden adware plugin, known as BeiTaAd. "We classify such apps as stalkerware", he added. Apparently, Google agreed, as the apps have been removed from Google Play and are no longer turning up in searches in the store. The app, according to users, was throwing up so many ads in the user interface that the phone would become practically unusable. The apps require you to have access to the phone of the person you are trying to spy on and once installed, it's pretty hard to tell that these apps are actually installed as there is no app icon.
If you suspect your smartphone has one of these apps or apps with similar functionalities, there's a way to find out. Here's the list and also how to check if any of these apps are there on your phone. If you see an app that you're unaware of or looks suspicious, feel free to uninstall it.