A controversial app posing as a simple messenger in the Android Play Store has been removed by Google for reportedly being used by Pakistanis to spy upon Indian Army personnel.
Titled “Smesh App”, the app appeared as a simple instant messenger app but after its removal, reports have come in claiming that the app was much more than that and was used as a spy tool to collect crucial information from the devices being used by army personnel. The story behind how this app got installed on those devices is marred with uncertainty but allegedly, agencies in Pakistan used the technique of creating fake accounts posing as women on social networks(such as Facebook) and befriending soldiers.
Apparently, the technique worked and they managed to fool some of them into accepting the friend requests and once they were past that, these fake-account holders had to convince the soldiers into downloading the app in question, “Smesh App”. Considering the fact the app looks like any other messaging app, a lot of these soldiers downloaded the app, granting all kind of critically-invasive permissions in the process. From there on, the app began the process of transmitting all type of vulnerable data like photos, location data, messaging data, e-mail, browsing data, etc, to a distant server. The server in this case is reported to be based in Germany and hosted by a someone in Karachi.
On Tuesday, Google finally removed the app from Play Store and when now it shows a “Not Found” error.
Here is Google’s statement on the removal,
We remove applications that violate our policies, such as apps that are illegal, deceptive or that promote hate speech once notified. As a policy, we don’t comment on individual applications.
Before the app was taken down from the Play Store, it had been downloaded over 500 times and had a surprisingly-good 4 star rating. The Indian Army, meanwhile, has blacklisted a total of three messaging apps including Smesh, WeChat and even Line.
Source — IBN LIVE