Google has pulled seven Android apps from its Play Store after researchers at Avast identified that they were designed to enable stalking.
The apps were likely designed by a Russian developer to allow people to stalk employees, romantic partners, or kids, Avast said.
The apps were installed a combined 130,000 times, with the most-installed apps being Spy Tracker and SMS Tracker, each of which had more than 50,000 installs.
Users could install these apps on the target device, entering their email address and password, after which it sends details on the phone owner’s activity to the snoop’s email address.
Avast said these apps are able to track the surveilled person’s location, collect their contacts, SMS, and call history.
“These apps are highly unethical and problematic for people’s privacy and shouldn’t be on the Google Play Store,” said Avast head of mobile threat intelligence and security Nikolaos Chrysaidos.
“They promote criminal behaviour, and can be abused by employers, stalkers or abusive partners to spy on their victims.”