Colin Mc Hugo

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Colin Mc Hugo
Security Engineer Manager & CEO at Quantum Infinite Solutions Group Ltd.

Experts Reveal Over 150 Ways to Steal Control of 58 Android Stalkerware Apps

May 18, 2021

A complete of 158 privateness and safety points have been recognized in 58 Android stalkware apps from numerous distributors that would allow a malicious actor to take management of a sufferer’s gadget, 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 apply that is not solely unethical however within the course of might additionally expose non-public and intimate info of the victims and go away them susceptible to cyberattacks and fraud.

“Since there could possibly be an in depth relationship between stalker and sufferer, the stalker’s non-public info is also 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 information’s deletion.”

Thus far, solely six distributors have fastened 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 referred to as spouseware or adware, refers to invasive software program that allows people to remotely monitor the actions on one other person’s gadget with out the person’s consent with the objective of facilitating intimate accomplice surveillance, harassment, abuse, stalking, and violence.


Primarily based on telemetry information gathered by ESET, Android adware 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 adware and surveillance know-how, stalkerware suppliers have managed to slide previous such defenses by masquerading as baby, worker, or girls security apps.


Among the many most prevalent points uncovered are as follows —

  • Apps from 9 completely different distributors are based mostly on an open-source Android adware referred to 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 Shield to weaken the gadget’s safety deliberately.
  • 22 apps transmit customers’ personally identifiable info 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 info, equivalent to keystroke logs, photographs, recorded cellphone calls, and audio, calendar occasions, browser historical past, contact lists, on exterior media. This might permit any third-party app with entry to exterior storage to learn these recordsdata with out further permission.
  • 17 apps expose person info saved within the servers to unauthorized customers with out requiring any authentication, granting the attacker full entry to name logs, photographs, e-mail addresses, IP logs, IMEI numbers, cellphone numbers, Fb and WhatsApp messages, and GPS areas.
  • 17 apps leak shopper info by means of their servers, thus permitting a sufferer to retrieve details about the stalker utilizing the gadget’s IMEI quantity and creating an “alternative to brute-force gadget 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 cellphone, with the apps solely counting on IMEI numbers for figuring out the gadget throughout communications.

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

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