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These apps are no longer on the Google Play Store for stealing user data

Google removed several Applications from Google Play Store after discovering that they contained spyware stealing confidential information. According to the Wall Street Journal, the data collection was done by a company that it believes performs cyber intelligence missions to United States.

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The presence of spyware has been detected by the company AppCensus, who has published a very detailed report on his blog. It explains how some apps (at first sight harmless and with millions of downloads) include a Software Development Kit (coelib.c.couluslibrary) which collects a large amount of data from the devices that are installed and transmitted to the server of a company registered in Panama called Measurement Systems.

what is spyware

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Spyware is a type of malware who tries to stay hidden while secretly recording information and following your online activities, both on computers and on smart phones.

They can monitor and copy everything you type, upload, download, and store. Some strains of spyware are also capable of activate cameras and microphones to see the person, and listen without the user noticing.

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By definition, spyware is designed to be invisible, which can be one of its most damaging attributes: the longer it goes unnoticed, the more havoc it can wreak. It’s like a virtual stalker that follows you through your use of the device, collecting personal data at the same time.

Google removes a wide selection of apps that collected data on Android

One point that caught the attention of the researchers was that the code responsible for collecting information behind the back of users it did not work in the same way in all the applications that included it, even when they use the same SDK version. Here are three examples that AppCensus found:

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1. It was discovered that a application that used a smartphone as a computer mouse it collected and transmitted the MAC address of the router to which the device was connected. This app has over 10 million downloads worldwide.

2. Another app reported by Google as containing spyware is a widget to see and know the weather with over a million downloads. It was discovered that this app could “catch” any item copied to the clipboard and send it to the measurement system’s server. Therefore, if a user copied a password or any other sensitive data, would fall into the wrong hands.

3. And they also found more extreme cases, like barcode and QR reader with more than 5 million downloads from the Google store. This application could collect the number of telephone Exactly, the address of emailthe location of the device through gpsthe IMEI of the mobile phone, the public name (SSID) of the WiFi network and the MAC address of the router without being connected.

Logically, only a few cases observed by specialists have been mentioned. In fact, AppCensus has published the list along with other apps where the Meter SDK has been discovered and its scope is very wide; from apps that warn of the presence of speed cameras on the road, to messaging platformsaudio tools and prayer guides.

Although this information has been made public in the last few hours, the findings are not new. Researchers informed Google of the presence of this spyware in October 2021; since then, the people of mountain view has eliminated these and other applications in which they also detected the presence of malicious code.

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