Google has taken a huge step to sanitize its Play Store space, as it has removed 813 apps that were identified as ‘Creepware’ by a group of researchers. This discovery was made by these researchers via a newly developed algorithm known as CreepRank.
CreepRank recognizes creepware-like behaviour within mobile apps and then gives ‘creep scores’ to these apps, qualifying them as creepware. Creepware are apps that can be utilized for interpersonal attacks, creepware apps may not be stalkerware or spyware but can be used to threaten or stalk another individual, directly or indirectly.
These findings were published in an academic paper from the New York University, Cornell Tech and NortonLifeLock Research Group. This kind of findings are important to improve security on platforms like the Play Store.
The researchers claimed in their paper that apps installed on roughly 50 million Android devices were analysed. It also noted that a wide variety of potential creepware apps were discovered by this algorithm, as 1,000 apps with the highest CreepRank scores were manually analysed and coded to understand them.
CreepRank successfully identified over 1,000,000 installs of various creepware apps, including apps that enable harassment like SMS bombers.
The researchers notified Google about these apps, leading to the removal of 813 apps for violating the Google Play Store’s terms and conditions. This is a step in the right direction for the tech company, as users’ security is key in a fast-growing digital world.