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New algorithm discovers hundreds of Android 'creepware' apps

Mashable 13 May 2020 09:46
Image: Ritchie B Tongo / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock
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Academic researchers from New York University, Cornell Tech, and NortonLifeLock have discovered hundreds of so-called creepware apps available on the Android Play Store, which Google has since removed.

As ZDNet reports, creepware refers to any app that is able to "stalk, harass, defraud, or threaten another person, directly or indirectly," but isn't fully-featured enough to class as spyware. In other words, these apps enable abuse, but need to be combined with other apps to be counted as a serious threat, that is, until now.

The researchers explain in their paper that creepware exists for "enabling non-expert users to mount interpersonal attacks" and created an algorithm called CreepRank, which awards a "creep score" to apps it believes may class as creepware. Examples of common creepware functionality includes spoofing (masking a phone's number), SMS bombing (spam someone's inbox with thousands of SMS messages), and apps allowing access to hacking tutorials.

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Cornell TechAndroid Play StoreGoogleNew York UniversityZDNet
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