California, August 24: Google has removed at least 500 apps from Play Store due to a spyware threat. The action was prompted by a report by US-based cyber security firm Lookout which stated that more than 500 apps in Play Store can spread spyware on smartphones.
These apps are spread across categories including games, weather apps, online radio, photo editing, education, health-fitness and home video camera apps. The apps contained a software development kit called Igexin, which makes it easier for apps to connect to ad networks and deliver ads that are targeted to the specific interests of end users.
Report reveals that “Once an app using a malicious version of Igexin was installed on a phone, the developer kit could update the app to include spyware at any time, with no warning.”
The most serious spyware installed on phones were packages that stole call histories, including the time a call was made, the number that placed the call, and whether the call went through. Other stolen data included GPS locations, lists of nearby Wi-Fi networks, and lists of installed apps.