Google Play Store removes over 800 creepware apps; what it means for Android users

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Published: May 14, 2020 12:32 PM

The research paper published from New York University, Cornell Tech and NortonLifeLock Research Group, stated that the researchers hoped to set off a larger study into the creepware, which they believe is an area remaining unstudied.

creepware, creepware study, harmful apps, Google move against creepware, Google Play Store security, Google latest news, google latest updatesThe research stated that they found 372 surveillance apps also.

Creepware on Google Play Store: Google has recently removed over 800 apps from its app store after the apps were classified as ‘creepware’ by researchers of stalkerware apps, according to reports. The researchers used a new algorithm called CreepRank, made to detect creep-like behaviour in mobile applications, to identify these creepware apps. The algorithm gives the apps it has analysed a “creep score” and after running the algorithm, researchers found that more than 1,000 apps could be categorised as creepware.

What is a creepware?

The apps which can be used to make interpersonal attacks have been classified as creepware by the researchers. Though not stalkerware or spyware, these apps can be used to stalk others or to threaten them directly or indirectly, the reports said.

The research paper published from New York University, Cornell Tech and NortonLifeLock Research Group, stated that the researchers hoped to set off a larger study into the creepware, which they believe is an area remaining unstudied. According to the authors, such studies could help in making platforms like Google Play Store more secure for the users.

The researchers studied creepware in their research by accessing a database of details about applications installed in more than 5 crore Android devices, the paper stated. The anonymous data was provided to the researchers by Norton, one of the biggest computer security firms, and the researchers ran the CreepRank algorithm on the data. They discovered a large number of potential creepware apps, after which they manually analysed and coded the 1,000 apps with the highest CreepRank score to understand the nature of these apps.

They said that their analysis showed that 857 of these 1,000 apps qualified as creepware, to fulfil the purpose of meting out interpersonal attack or defence against it. The research further stated that 372 apps were surveillance apps, the biggest representation in the set, and many of these apps had not been identified as creepware by prior work.

The researchers then added that they notified Google of the nearly 1,100 creepware apps, of which the technology giant has as of now removed 813 apps from the play store for violating the terms and conditions laid down by Google.

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