Consultants Reveal Over 150 Methods to Steal Management of 58 Android Stalkerware Apps


A complete of 158 privateness and safety points have been recognized in 58 Android stalkware apps from numerous distributors that might allow a malicious actor to take management of a sufferer’s machine, hijack a stalker’s account, intercept information, obtain distant code execution, and even body the sufferer by importing fabricated proof.

The brand new findings, which come from an evaluation of 86 stalkerware apps for the Android platform undertaken by Slovak cybersecurity agency ESET, spotlight the unintended penalties of a follow that is not solely unethical however within the course of may additionally expose non-public and intimate data of the victims and go away them prone to cyberattacks and fraud.

“Since there could possibly be an in depth relationship between stalker and sufferer, the stalker’s non-public data may be uncovered,” ESET researcher Lukas Stefanko said in a Monday write-up. “Throughout our analysis, we recognized that some stalkerware retains details about the stalkers utilizing the app and gathered their victims’ information on a server, even after the stalkers requested the info’s deletion.”

So far, solely six distributors have mounted the problems that had been recognized of their apps. 44 distributors selected to not acknowledge the disclosures, whereas seven others claimed they intend to deal with the issues in an upcoming replace. “One vendor determined to not repair the reported points,” Stefanko stated.

password auditor

Stalkerware, additionally known as spouseware or spy ware, refers to invasive software program that allows people to remotely monitor the actions on one other person’s machine with out the person’s consent with the aim of facilitating intimate accomplice surveillance, harassment, abuse, stalking, and violence.


Based mostly on telemetry information gathered by ESET, Android spy ware detection surged by 48% in 2020 when in comparison with 2019, which witnessed a five-fold enhance in stalkerware detections from 2018. Though Google put in place restrictions on advertising for spy ware and surveillance know-how, stalkerware suppliers have managed to slide previous such defenses by masquerading as little one, worker, or ladies security apps.


Among the many most prevalent points uncovered are as follows —

  • Apps from 9 completely different distributors are primarily based on an open-source Android spy ware known as Droid-Watcher, with one vendor utilizing a Metasploit payload as a monitoring app.
  • Some apps have hardcoded license keys in cleartext, permitting simple theft of software program. Different apps analyzed by ESET disable notifications and Google Play Defend to weaken the machine’s safety deliberately.
  • 22 apps transmit customers’ personally identifiable data over an unencrypted connection to the stalkerware server, thereby allowing an adversary on the identical community to stage a man-in-the-middle assault and alter transmitted information.
  • 19 apps retailer delicate data, similar to keystroke logs, photographs, recorded telephone calls, and audio, calendar occasions, browser historical past, contact lists, on exterior media. This might enable any third-party app with entry to exterior storage to learn these recordsdata with out extra permission.
  • 17 apps expose person data saved within the servers to unauthorized customers with out requiring any authentication, granting the attacker full entry to name logs, photographs, electronic mail addresses, IP logs, IMEI numbers, telephone numbers, Fb and WhatsApp messages, and GPS areas.
  • 17 apps leak shopper data by means of their servers, thus permitting a sufferer to retrieve details about the stalker utilizing the machine’s IMEI quantity and creating an “alternative to brute-force machine IDs and dump all of the stalkerware purchasers.”
  • 15 apps transmit unauthorized information from a tool to the servers instantly upon set up and even earlier than the stalker registers and units up an account.
  • 13 apps have inadequate verification protections for uploaded information from a sufferer telephone, with the apps solely counting on IMEI numbers for figuring out the machine throughout communications.

The final concern can be regarding in that or not it’s exploited by an attacker to intercept and falsify information. “With applicable permission, these identifiers will be simply extracted by different apps put in on a tool and will then be used to add fabricated textual content messages, photographs and telephone calls, and different fictitious information to the server, to border victims or make their lives tougher,” Stefanko stated.

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