Spy Text Apps – The ThreatLabZ research team came across a suspicious Android app on GooglePlay, Google’s official app store, called SPYMIE. SPYMIE bills itself as an Android-based keylogger designed for parents to track their children’s cell phone activities. Given the popularity of such apps, it has become common practice for app developers to promote spying capabilities as parental control features. However, SPYMIE contains additional parental controls.
Basically, SPYMIE is an Android-based keylogger that has the ability to hide itself and start recording everything the user tries to access. Keystroke logging is ideally best achieved with keyboard-based apps, but this app uses Android
Spy Text Apps
Perform their functions. The app’s author also included their email address in the app’s code, allowing them access to all the information the app collects, leaving app users vulnerable to identity theft.
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“SPYMIE: Key Logger is specially designed for parents to track your children’s mobile phones. It will also help you when a friend asks you for your phone for ten minutes, but you don’t trust them. So what you have to do, you have to do only in SPYMIE: Key Logger. That way, whenever your friends return your phone, you can check all the actions your friend has taken. It records all the activities performed on your phone. All activations are sent to your mobile phone via email.
“For parents, what they have to do is you just install the app on your kid’s phone. Hide the icon. Later, you’ll check all the activities your kids do throughout the day.”
Once the app is installed, it starts the basic setup process by asking the user for an email ID as shown in the screenshot below.
Once familiarization is complete, the program requests runtime permission to handle outgoing calls. The reason for asking for this permission is due to the hidden feature of the app. As shown in the screenshot below, when the user turns on the stealth feature, the app asks for a secret PIN to open the app. The user can then open the app by launching the phone dialer and entering the PIN. This is the main reason for asking permission to make phone calls.
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After completing the basic setup, you can enable the spy function. To enable spying on user activity, this application uses
This feature was designed to help users with disabilities use Android devices and apps. The screenshot below shows the functionality in action:
After enabling Accessibility Services, the program starts logging all actions performed by the user/victim. The image below shows the code responsible for recording user actions along with keystrokes and saving it to a file named
To see the functionality in action, we tried running the program in a controlled environment. First, we opened Gmail and tried to write a sample email. As shown in the screenshot below, almost everything from opening Gmail (left) to composing an email was logged (right).
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In another test, we launched Paytm and tried to login. The right of the screenshot below shows how each action is logged.
Looking at it from another perspective, the application has a serious vulnerability that OWASP says can be attributed to
Permission can read logs provided by Android. In this case, all sensitive data is written to log entries, and every piece of sensitive data is at risk.
Also, this keylogger app can send logged/stolen data to the email id entered by the user during setup, but we found a code snippet that was also designed to send this data to another hardcoded email id. The screenshot below shows both code snippets. The first is an ideal scenario where an email is sent to a provided email id, and the second box shows the functionality of the app which runs a timer task to send an email to a hardcoded email id every 60 seconds.
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In our analysis, we did not find any calls to the second piece of code where the email is sent to a hard-coded email ID, and we believe there are two possible explanations. It is possible that the author of the program added this functionality during testing and forgot to remove the dead code. This seems unlikely because the piece of code to send an email to a hard-coded email ID is well designed and placed as a timer task to send an email every 60 seconds. The second possibility could be due to the fact that the program is under development. This application may still be under development and any challenges related to this feature may be added in future updates.
– Any user can install such apps on their Android devices and can offer their phone to others to use. When a victim enters their personal details, it will be logged. The user can review this information later.
It is always advisable to stay away from spyware because the typical user can never be sure what exactly is going on under the hood. Be careful when using other mobile devices. Never perform critical actions or enter personal information on borrowed or unknown devices. users are protected from this kind of threats.
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I just installed the app but strangely it doesn’t work so don’t install it, it’s a waste of time. The Android chat app, which claims to be a secure messaging platform, comes with a spying feature and stores user data in an unsecured location that is publicly accessible.
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Welcome Chat targets users from a specific region of the world and relies on open source code to record calls, steal text messages and track.
The developers of Welcome Chat promoted it as a secure communication solution available on the Google Play Store. Its target audience is Arabic-speaking users. It is important to note that some countries in the Middle East prohibit this type of programs.
Researchers from cybersecurity company ESET found that the app provides more than advertised chat features and was never part of the official Android Store.
Apps outside the Play Store require users to allow installation from unknown sources, which is the case with Welcome Chat.
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If users ignore this red flag, the app asks for permission to send and view SMS messages, access files, record audio, and access contacts and device location. These permissions are normal for a chat app.
After receiving the user’s consent, Welcome Chat starts sending information about the device and contacts its control server (C2) every five minutes for commands.
Researchers say that monitoring communications with other Welcome Chat users is at the core of this malicious app, which is complemented by the following malicious activities:
Researchers have found that most of the code used for espionage comes from open sources, either from open source projects or code snippets posted as examples on various forums.
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Whoever designed Welcome Chat didn’t put much effort into it. They probably searched the internet for the desired spy functionality and took the code from the first results.
This conclusion is supported by the age of the code for certain capabilities, which in some cases has been publicly available for at least five years. The call recording and geo-tracking features, for example, are eight years old.
A low-level attacker can also be assumed because the program and its infrastructure lack basic security, such as encrypting data in transit. Connecting to a download website is also unsafe.
“Transmitted data is not encrypted, making it not only available to the attacker, but also freely available to everyone on the same network,” ESET Android malware researcher Lukas Štefanka says in a blog post today.
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