Stalkerware in apps allows a user to spy on another user without leaving a trace. These unethical apps have been found on the Google Play Store by researchers at Avast. The three apps found are believed to be the work of an unidentified Russian developer. The app names are, Spy Tracker, SMS Tracker, and Employee Work Spy, These three apps total over 130,000 downloads. According to researchers, “These apps are highly unethical and problematic for people’s privacy and shouldn’t be on the Google Play Store, as they promote criminal behavior, and can be abused by employers, stalkers or abusive partners to spy on their victims.” The Google Play Store is quick to boot these kinds of apps, but due to their open-source style platforms, these apps pop back up as soon as they are taken down. The apps not only allow the user to spy on the location of others but allow the developer to access the location data of the user and their victims. Typically, their spying capability is limited to the target’s location, contact list, SMS and call history, but on rooted mobile devices it allows the collection of WhatApp and Viber messages. To hide the true nature of these apps, the developer promotes its products as parental control apps.
Even though Google has pulled the three stalker apps from Play Store, they remain functional on the devices they were downloaded to. Users are recommended to delete these apps from Android devices as soon as possible.