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Google removes 813 ‘Creepware’ apps from the Android Play Store


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Google removes 813 ‘Creepware’ apps from the Android Play Store

Tech Giant Google has removed 813 Apps from its Android Play Store that Qualified as 'Creepware', Research Claims.
The research behind last year's report has now been published online this month in a paper titled as "The Many Kinds of Creepware Used for Interpersonal Attacks." the report explains that even though these apps don’t have complete features of a “spyware or stalkerware product but they can still be used to stalk, harass, defraud, or threaten another person, directly or indirectly.”

CreepRank Algorithm

CreepRank Algorithm -- To track these apps, the researchers developed an algorithm called as 'CreepRank' that identifies creepware -like behavior inside mobile apps, and then assigns a creep score to each app, following which it is supposed to assign a creep score to each app.
For example, the CreepRank algorithm can easily identify apps with features that can be abused to extract SMS messages from a device, spoof another user's identity in IM/SMS chats, launch denial-of-service attacks (SMS/IM bombs, etc.), hide other apps, control access to other apps, track location, and more.

According to researchers;
“We develop a new algorithm, CreepRank, that uses the principle of guilt by association to help surface previously unknown examples of creepware, which we then characterize through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. We discovered apps used for harassment, impersonation, fraud, information theft, concealment, and even apps that purport to defend victims against such threats.” 
 According to the published report, This CreepRank algorithm was then run on a sample of anonymized data from apps installed on over 50 million Android smartphones, Out of the top 1000 apps, 857 creepware apps took a central role.

CreepRank Algorithm founds '857' Creepware apps out of which Google has removed 813  ‘Creepware’ apps from the Android Play Store, This included apps that enable:

  1. Caller ID (46 apps)
  2. spoofing (115 apps)
  3. harassment (80 apps, including SMS bombers)
  4. Info Extraction (75 apps)
  5. Surveillance (372 apps)
  6. hacking tutorials (63 apps), and others.
CreepRank Algorithm
CreepRank Algorithm

The research team also notified that Google about the 1,095 apps last summer, and the tech giant's security teams intervened and took down 813 for violating the Play Store's terms and conditions.

CreepRank algorithm is available in the research team's paper, which can be downloaded from here.
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Team Security Diskussion über Google removes 813 ‘Creepware’ apps from the Android Play Store