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Seven spy apps discovered on Play store

Spies are everywhere. Even in the places where we get along the least. Malicious apps are probably installed on your smartphone without you even knowing it.

The news of computer security is animated by the famous discovery of spy apps. Google recently removed several apps from the Google Play Store after discovering that they did not comply with the terms of use, in part because they could be used as "stalkerware".

This article may also be of interest to you: How can you protect yourself from spying on your iPhone?

Avast's mobile device security team has identified 7 spy apps on the Play Store. All proposed by a Russian developer, they were installed no less than 130,000 times before being banned by Google. They have nothing to do with the 1,325 Android apps recently discovered that siphon personal data.

All seven apps were on the Play Store 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.

All were removed from the store this week thanks to the collaboration between Avast and Google.

Spy Tracker and SMS Tracker that have been installed by users each more than fifty thousand times (50,000 times.)

These applications of budding spies often present as normal tracking or spying tools: monitor the activity of its employees on their work mobile or know where your child is (which raises moral, but not legal) questions. Here's what Google says in its terms of use.

Commercial surveillance apps and spyware are explicitly banned on Google Play. Only host-compliant applications exclusively designed and marketed for parental monitoring (including family) or business management can distribute tracking and reporting features on the Store, provided they fully comply with the requirements described below.

In particular is marked requirements that the application must show clearly when it is active and not mislead the user about its purpose. Those that do not meet these requirements are denied from the Google Play Store.

"These applications are unethical and problematic in terms of user privacy. They shouldn't be on the Google Play Store. They incite criminal behaviour and can be easily diverted from their primary function by stalkers, employers or possessive partners who want to spy on their victims. These are Stalkerwa[…]res," said Nikolas Chrysaidos, one of Avast's mobile security managers.
In a recent report from Kaspersky Lab, the security company claims that spyware has been installed on more than 58,000 Android smartphones.

These applications collected and recorded the geographical location of course, but also the text messages received and entered or the call history. In good spy applications, they left no trace, telling the spy how to remove any installation elements… Worse, they did not appear in the list of programs on the terminal.

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Why did Google put all the accounts together in one?

As our digital life grows, so do we grow. It then becomes almost impossible to remember the identifiers and passwords of all these accounts. But Google has found the solution, grouping all your accounts to services of the mountain view giant, in one access.

Practice you might say. Certainly. The effectiveness of this can be denied. Email address, Youtube account, Blogs on Blogger, photos on Picasa, etc… It's all there, within easy reach, and with just one click. One more step towards a complete assistantship completely managed by a third party. Let it happen, we take care of everything.

Except that. Do you remember Dylan M.'s misadventure in 2011? He had just migrated seven years of digital life to his Google accounts, before everything disappeared, like that, without him ever being warned, and without him knowing why. All his life, all his personal information, photos, contacts, and even his blog, disappeared, as if passed out in the wild.

And that's the risk, when you put all your eggs in one basket. If the basket falls, all the eggs break.

It is therefore strongly advised to all users of internet services, clouds and others, to make, each time, a copy on a local disk, in order to avoid this kind of inconvenience. That being said, and considering that these services are only a plus allowing easy sharing of data, whether it is personal or business data, there is no reason not to appreciate the fact that access to different Google accounts is simplified.

When viewed on the Google side, it is also easier to spot and satisfy a user. Bringing all the possibilities together in one point makes it easier for contributors to intervene and to follow up on customers.

In any case, it is also this centralization of services and data that attracts the public to use Google webmail even more, as a starting point. In fact, it seems that people like to be assisted, even when it comes to storing digital photos that they will probably never look at again in their lives. Google seems to have captured the meaning of digital evolution, and the fact that the firm is constantly buying up start-ups to improve its services, tends to show that this is just beginning.

The invisible danger to the user is that he entrusts his whole life to an operator who will use it only to better sell him something. In this sense, the user becomes a slave to the company to which he delivers his privacy and professional secrets. But it is so well proposed that it is difficult to avoid it, if not to use old methods. Because the other players in this market tend to disappear under the weight of the American behemoth.

Check out our tips on GMail:
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