A game known as Tap Snake for the Google Android OS is actually a client for a commercial spy application that can track people's movements.
sending up a flare to warn Google Android users about a
video game that can be used to track and monitor their movements.
The application, known as Tap Snake, is a version of a 1970s video game
called "Snake." According to researchers at F-Secure, Tap Snake is a
client for a commercial spying application known as GPS
"The Tap Snake game looks like an average 'Snake' clone," blogged
Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure. "However, there are
two hidden features. First, the game won't exit. Once installed, it runs in the
background forever, and restarts automatically when you boot the phone. And
secondly, every 15 minutes the game secretly reports the GPS
location of the phone to a server."
Once the game is installed, an attacker with physical access to the Android
device can program the game to report the device's location to another system
running GPS Spy. While the game is free, GPS
Spy costs $4.99, and buyers are advised to install the Tap Snake game on
whatever device they want to spy on, Hypponen blogged.
According to Symantec, GPS Spy downloads
the data from the device running Tap Snake and displays it as location points
in Google Maps.
"For it to work, an email address and 'key' must be typed into the
phone running AndroidOS.Tapsnake," Symantec noted. "This same
registration information must later be typed into the phone running GPS
Like all Android applications, Tap Snake requires that users grant
permission for it to do what it does. For that reason, Google is advising users
"When installing an application, users see a screen that explains
clearly what information and system resources the application has permission to
access, such as a phone's GPS location,"
a Google spokesperson said. "Users must explicitly approve this access in
order to continue with the installation, and they may uninstall applications at
any time. They can also view ratings and reviews to help decide which
applications they choose to install."