Google Removes SmeshApp Allegedly Used by Pakistan’ ISI to Spy on Indian military

Google has removed SmeshApp from PlayStore on the allegations that the app is a tool used by Pakistan’s ISI to spy on Indian military personnel

The rivalry between India and Pakistan is known to the whole world with militaries of both countries at war for several times after getting independence from the Brits — Now the tools of battle are changing and governments are relying on the cyber warfare.

Indian and Pakistani soilders at Wagah Border Ceremony
Indian and Pakistani soldiers at Wagah Border Ceremony

Recently, an Indian television station claimed to conduct an investigation on SmeshApp (Google Cache), a calling and messaging app on Google PlayStore. Now you must be wondering what’s there to investigate in an app? Well, the TV station said that it found SmeshApp to be suspicious and working to benefit the Pakistani military by spying on Indian military officials.

SmashApp, which has been removed by Google from its PlayStore was a free of charge app allowing users to make free calls, text messages, send photo and video messages. However in order to provide the service for free, the app asked for permissions like contact list, current location, media gallery (pictures and videos) and camera.

google-removes-smeshapp-allegedly-used-by-pakistan-isi-to-spy-on-indian-military
Screenshot from SmeshApp’s Google Play store

 

The TV report also claimed that the collected information was stored on a server located in Germany which was rented in Karachi helping the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to spy on the daily activities, communications and conversations of Indian military personnel including Army, Navy, Air Force, Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).


After concluding the investigations, Indian authorities contacted Google who then removed the app from its PlayStore on 15th March 2016. It is still unclear if Google has confirmed the app’s negative use, however, removing such apps is not a permanent solution to such tactics. Anyone can upload a new app with a different name sooner or later.

Earlier this year, Indian military warned personnel about using three apps including Line, SmashApp and WeChat suspecting that these apps may be spying on them.

This is not the first time when Indian authorities have suspected their neighbours of spying. In 2014, Indian airforce issued security warnings against the use of Chinese Xiaomi smartphones due to alleged built-in spyware.

Waqas

Waqas Amir is a Milan-based cybersecurity journalist with a passion for covering latest happenings in cyber security and tech world. In addition to being the founder of this website, Waqas is also into gaming, reading and investigative journalism.