Categories: Technology

Google kicks 813 creepware apps out of Android Play Store


Tech giant Google confirms that it has successfully removed 813 creepware apps out of its official Android Play Store.

Creepware refers to any kind of app that has the capability of stalking, harassing, and defrauding users. However, this type of malicious app does not contain all the necessary features for it to be identified as a spyware.

The malicious apps usually do not cause any harm by itself. However, this type of malicious app works alongside other apps for it to deliver its malicious payload. Most of the time, these apps harass, defraud, and stalk its users.

A new detection algorithm

Google says that its successful raid of creepwares on its platform can be attributed to a team of academics. These academics are working on a new algorithm that can effectively track and identify these malicious apps.

The team calls this new algorithm CreepRank. It works by assigning suspected creepware with a “creep score.” This specific score increases once a suspected app qualifies to what the team identifies as malicious functionalities. Among the attacks related to creepware are SMS bombing, phone number spoofing, and hacking tutorials.

In order to test the accuracy of CreepRank, the researchers subjected it to a test using a randomized data from NortonLifeLock. The researchers discover that out of the top 1000 apps that CreepRank detected, 857 were legitimate creepware.

The team then send the data to Google. Out of the 1095 detected creepware, Google remove 813 from its official Play Store.

How the algorithm works

The mechanics behind CreepRank is relatively simple. All it does is give each app its own score, and then test it for malicious functionalities. Among the functionalities that the team consider as creepware are the following: information extraction, surveillance, spoofing, and harassment.

Due to the success of this new algorithm, NortonLifeLock added CreepRank into its own mobile antivirus suite. The company is also looking forward into incorporating the same algorithm in detecting stalkerwares.

The team behind CreepRank is looking to apply the algorithm into the entire Google Play Store catalog. Google’s respond to the initial test is quite positive, as it quickly removes these malicious apps from its platform. Security experts and researchers are looking forward to Google adopting the algorithm natively into its platform.

Security experts said that Google should incorporate this new creepware algorithm during the testing phase of an app. That way, its platform can detect malicious apps before they reach the official Play Store.

Image courtesy of Stephen Frank/Unsplash

Yen Palec

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Yen Palec

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