Google removes 813 creepy Android apps used to 'stalk and threaten people' – delete them NOW
GOOGLE has removed hundreds of apps suspected of being used to stalk and harass people from its official Play Store.
The so-called "creepware" apps had been downloaded more than a million times and were used by hackers to directly or indirectly attack people.
Google banned 813 of the downloads last year following a report from researchers at New York University, Cornell Tech, and NortonLifeLock.
Published online this month, the report outlines how experts analysed the use of creepware on the Play Store.
Creepware refers to apps used by hackers to stalk, harass, threaten or defraud another person.
Different versions can let a hacker track your online activity, steal your passwords or make your computer display onscreen messages.
All a victim needs to do is download a dodgy app and hackers may have access to their phone's files, messages, camera and more.
"Creepware lets people hack into your computer or mobile device and control it from a distance," according to cybersecurity firm Norton.
"The most famous examples of this are using a device’s camera and microphone to watch and listen to victims.
"This type of spyware allows hackers, cybercriminals or online creeps to spy on your family or use recorded material for illegal purposes."
What is creepware?
Here's what you need to know…
According to cybersecurity firm Norton:
"Creepware lets people hack into your computer or mobile device and control it from a distance.
"The most famous examples of this use a device’s camera and microphone to watch and listen to victims.
"This type of spyware allows hackers, cybercriminals or online creeps to spy on your family or use recorded material for illegal purposes.
"Different versions of creepware can let a hacker steal your personal files, monitor your online activity, download files, steal your passwords, log keywords and make your computer display onscreen messages.
"The thought of someone burrowing around in your personal information and turning your computer into a surveillance device is terrifying but it does happen.
"Hackers could blackmail you, steal personal information or broadcast footage of you on the web.
"One high profile case saw a former Miss Teen USA winner and other women exposed to “sextortion” threats after a hacker threatened to publish sensitive photos taken on their webcams unless they provided him with additional adult material.
"The malware is cheap and easily installed, making it a perfect weapon for everyone from voyeurs to cybercriminals and trolls.
"You don’t need to be a skilled hacker to give this tech a go."
Researchers behind the creepware report developed an algorithm named CreepRank that can identify the dodgy software on other people's phones.
The algorithm even assigns a "creep score" to each app based on how many features they have that can be used to spy on or harass people.
The team then ran the software on anonymised data from apps installed on more than 50million Android smartphones.
The data was provided by NortonLifeLock using information from phones that had installed the Norton Mobile Security mobile antivirus app.
In total, 1,095 creepware apps were identified by researchers. They had been installed more than one million times between 2017 and 2019.
The apps were used for various nefarious purposes, including harassment, hacking tutorials and more.
After informing Google of the apps, the tech giant took down 813 of them from the Play Store for violating its terms and conditions.
The full list of offending apps can be found here.
In other news, jealous Brits are reportedly using "stalkerware" apps to spy on their partners.
iPhones have been ‘silently hacked for years’ giving crooks access to photos, texts and live locations, according to Google.
Leaked Google sketches have revealed a secret ‘spy watch’ with a camera hidden under the screen.
What do you make of the "creepware" news? Let us know in the comments!
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