Some apps will make you paranoid about being tracked on your phone

April 29, 2019 - 2:19 PM
Teenagers on their smartphones
Teenagers scrolling through their smartphones. (Creative Commons/Stock photo)

There are apps designed to gather information about users on mobile phones, tracking their every move including where they go and what they buy.

Kaspersky Labs reported that it has upgraded its internet security app for Android users by creating a feature that detects whether a software or an app is installed in the phone that acts like a spy.

These types of software or app can “access their victim’s device information, SMS (short messaging system) messages, photographs, social media conversations (and) geolocation data.”

It can also “transfer audio and camera recordings in real time,” the firm added.

To combat such invasions of privacy and potential threats to security, the firm has decided to develop a “new attention grabbing alert” that notifies a user whenever a spyware program has been detected on their phone.

Apparently, it was discovered that more than 580,000 users have spyware — or “stalkerware,” as the firm calls it — installed in their devices in 2018.

Out of them, 35,000 people were not aware that such programs were in their devices until after the firm has performed a scan.

It was reported that a researcher in August 2018 was able to find out that 100,000 users have been compromised by an Android spyware app, TheTruthSpy.

A person holding a smartphone. (Philstar/File photo)

It sent login and password credentials to an outside party without encryption, compromising all of the users’ photos, voice recordings, messages and location data.

Another incident happened in March 2019, when a different researcher discovered that a certain server belonging to Android spyware app, MobiiSpy, was publicly available.

More than 95,000 user photos were stored in the server, as well as voice recordings not amounting to less than 25,000.

All about spyware 

A spyware is a generic term that refers to any kinds of software or program which obtains information from a device and sends it to a third party without the user being aware of it.

Information often includes passwords, PINs and credit card numbers. A user’s keyboard strokes, browsing habits and e-mail addresses are also tracked as well.

Spywares would usually make its way to devices by attaching itself to another program which the user has intentionally downloaded or installed.

It would then coerce the user to install it (the spyware in the guise of another program) together with the intended program, displaying a screen that claims the latter would only work if the other program — the spyware — would be installed.

Other times, it would be installed in the device when the user has visited a website that has been compromised or when a malicious email attachment has been opened.

Spywares were originally developed as a marketing tool or as a means to monitor a usage of a device for strict licensing purposes, according to BBC.