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Google takes down seven stalkerware apps from the Play Store

Google Play Store
Google Play Store (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has removed seven Android apps from the Play Store after it was found that they allowed people to stalk others.
  • The apps were quite popular, with 130,000 total downloads.
  • All the seven apps were apparently created by a single Russian developer.

Google has pulled seven apps from the Play Store after mobile threat researchers at Avast discovered (opens in new tab) they allowed people to stalk employees, kids, or romantic partners. Avast reported four of the apps to Google on Tuesday, after which they were quickly removed from the Play Store. The other three apps were reported on Wednesday and have also been pulled.

The apps required the perpetrator to gain access to the target's phone and then install the app to begin spying. They were then prompted to enter their email address and password so the spying app could be sent there. After that, snoops could access sensitive information such as the target's location, contacts, SMS, and call history. It is almost impossible for the target to detect the spying app as the snoop can hide all signs of the app from the targeted phone, including icons.

The spying apps were published on the Play Store as being tools designed to help parents to monitor their kids or help employers monitor work time of their employees. Among the seven apps that have been removed by Google, Spy Tracker and SMS Tracker were the most popular, both installed more than 50,000 times. All of the seven apps combined were installed more than 130,000 times.

Nikolaos Chrysaidos, head of mobile threat intelligence and security at Avast, said in a statement:

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.

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Babu Mohan
Babu Mohan
24 Comments
  • The least you could do is list all those apps here so people can avoid them
  • no,no,nooooo, that would be too easy and nice!!!
  • Personally, while I'm a fan of freedom of information, i wouldn't want to be responsible for publishing a list of apps to stalk/track People either. Just because they were removed from the Play Store doesn't mean they were removed from the internet.
  • .... They're in the pictures..... use your eyes? lol.
  • Using the mobile app. I can neither zoom in nor clearly see the downscaled images. Nice try though. Now kindly go and stick your head back UP your ass.
  • The apps were published under the following names: Track Employees Check Work Phone Online Spy Free
    Spy Kids Tracker
    Phone Cell Tracker
    Mobile Tracking
    Spy Tracker
    SMS Tracker
    Employee Work Spy
  • I've just checked again they are all still available for UK market.
    That's what's good for Android people can just side load them anyway.
  • What are the 7 apps? Nice article, you dolt.
  • Facebook, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google, Chrome, forgot the last one...
  • Google isn't an "App"...
  • https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F... Lol.
  • They're in the pictures, you dolt. . .
  • See my response to you above.
  • Best not to feed the trolls
  • Yet I can find fifty apps that do the exact same thing on Apple's version of a play store. I guess it's only really a "problem" if you frame it a certain way to attack Android.
  • How was this a way to 'attack' Android? The apps did not 'attack' Android, and neither did the article... and I've yet to see any other person go 'Apple is better this is why I don't use Android' either...
  • Why would you have to avoid them? They're taken down so there's no way you could download them on the play store
  • This is rather funny XD So many people going "You didn't list the apps you dolt!". Why on EARTH would they want to publish the names of the apps? That just promotes the developer and allows people to more easily find the apps and side load them... Ontop of that, they're removed from the Play Store sooo you can't just simply get them there anymore... Annnnnd ontop of THAT.... the apps were all obvious anyway.... They where 'tracking' apps... sooooo more than likely had some sort of 'tracking' name... Oh wait! They did! Look at the pictures you DOLTS....
  • I know, right?
  • There's truth to what you wrote. Couldn't have cared less about Deep Nude...until articles highlighted its demise. Now guess what I installed.
  • Heaven forbid parents track their kids!
  • Couple of things wrong whith that. First, that's not the issue, as is pretty obvious from the term "stalkerware". I know, it's hard to read the WHOLE article title. Second, you should remember you're not tracking your kids, your tracking your kids PHONE. You may feel pretty smart tracking your 15 year old... Until they realise and just leave their phone at a bookish kids house while they're at a party lol.
  • Maybe they could just tie some government services into the app like Absher does to prevent it being taken down again.
  • The apps were published under the following names: Track Employees Check Work Phone Online Spy Free
    Spy Kids Tracker
    Phone Cell Tracker
    Mobile Tracking
    Spy Tracker
    SMS Tracker
    Employee Work Spy