Google released seven Play Store applications after Avast mobile extension researchers discovered that they allowed people to pursue employees, children or romantic companions. Avast reported four of the applications on Google Tuesday, after which they quickly withdrew from the Play Store. The other three applications were reported Wednesday and they were also withdrawn.
The applications required that the author had access to the target phone and then installed the application to start spying. Then, he asked them to enter their email address and password so that the spying could be sent there. After that, snoops could access sensitive information, such as location, contacts, SMS, and the call history of the goal. It is almost impossible for the target to detect the application of espionage, since the snoop can hide all the signs of the application from the targeted phone, including the icons.
Spyware applications were published in the Play Store as tools designed to help parents supervise their children or help employers control their employees' work time. Among the seven applications that Google has removed, Spy Tracker and SMS Tracker were the most popular, both installed more than 50,000 times. All seven combined applications were installed more than 130,000 times.
Nikolaos Chrysaidos, head of information and security of mobile threat in Avast, said in a statement:
These applications are very unethical and problematic for people's privacy and should not be in the Google Play store, they promote criminal behavior and can be abused by entrepreneurs, prosecutors or abusive couples for spy on your victims We classify applications like stalkerware and, using apklab.io, we can identify these applications quickly and collaborate with Google to eliminate them.