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App Auto-Tweets False Piracy Accusations 231

An anonymous reader writes "Certain iPhone and iPad applications from a Japanese company have broken software piracy detection mechanisms that are sending out tweets on the user's own Twitter account, saying, 'How about we all stop using pirated iOS apps? I promise to stop. I really will. #softwarepirateconfession.' The trouble is, it's sending these out on accounts of users who actually paid up to $50 or more for the software and who are legally using it. The app is asking for access to users' Twitter accounts, but does not give the reason why it is asking, so the author of the article concluded (rightly) that things were being done deliberately. Would you want your legally purchased software to send out messages to all of your contacts on Twitter or on other social networks saying that you were a software pirate? Would you excuse the writers of the software if it was just an error in their piracy detection measures?"
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App Auto-Tweets False Piracy Accusations

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  • Re:Economics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:40PM (#41975325) Homepage Journal

    None of that is applicable here. The app is hijacking the users twitter credentials to falsely claim that they are pirates.

    Even if I accept for the sake of argument that DRM is OK in general, I see two major ethical problems there.

  • by EGSonikku ( 519478 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `elibom.nesretep'> on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:42PM (#41975349)

    Flamebait much? People pay far more than that for desktop apps. People tend to think that an iOS iPhone or iPad app is going to always be some simple thing, and a lot are. But there are plenty of higher end "desktop quality" apps available on the platform.

    Granted I don't personally believe a Dictionary app would be, but hey, an app is worth what people are willing to pay.

    Back to the topic of what's triggering these erroneous piracy messages, there could be a couple of things at play. Some people are reporting its happening on Jailbroken devices that also have the "Install0us" app installed, which is to be fair used solely for app pirating. It may be the app sees "Hey, I'm on a hacked device with a pirate store installed" and assuming it itself has been pirated for that reason.

    However, other users are reporting the same issue on non-jailbroken devices which leads me to believe that these apps were targeted for iOS 5.1.1 and may be seeing the massive backend library and OS changes Apple made for iOS6 and incorrectly assuming its running on a Jailbroken devices due to unexpected OS differences.

    I'm not defending the app maker for obviously going overboard on anti-piracy measures, just trying to figure out the 'why' of it being triggered for paying customers.

  • Boycott app stores (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:59PM (#41975499)

    There's a simple solution: never install programs from an untrusted source, such as an app store. A source that's trustworthy has the sources you can download and read -- and if any such a logic bomb is found, it can be removed immediately -- not that code with such a bomb should be really allowed back without a thorough review. This possibility makes such sabotage virtually absent in free software.

  • Misrepresentation (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @08:13PM (#41975617)

    The app is posting a tweet purporting to come form the user, whereas it actually comes form the app's author. As the app's message is implying that the user is violating copyrights, a crime, this is defamatory, so the author of the app is libelling the user. The user isn't a public figure, so doesn't have to prove malice on the part of the app's author. As I see it, the only defence for the app's author would be to prove that the user did illegally copy software.

  • Re:App permissions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Threni ( 635302 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @08:32PM (#41975783)

    I noticed one of these twitter posts from Teller (the silent half of Penn and Teller) earlier today. I assumed it was a joke that I didn't understand, but it makes sense now.

    I'm more than willing to make a statement in court to the effect that I assumed he was admitting to performing illegal acts if it helps in any subsequent lawsuit against the turd-like cretins who abused people's trust in their products by misrepresenting them publicly in this way.

  • Re:App permissions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by farble1670 ( 803356 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @09:20PM (#41976219)

    Secondly, when one looks at the amounts of malware available for each platform it does become clear that the 'walled garden' does seem to have an affect on device security.

    okay, so you are now admitting that there is malware on iOS? that's a big step. so, from now on, your argument is going to be that there's less malware on iOS?

  • Approved Malware (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:55PM (#41976831) Journal

    I've been rather surprised at the porousness of Apple's walled garden. My iPad is 100% stock (not jailbroken, etc), and all of the apps came directly from the app store. A couple weeks ago I noticed some odd files in my dropbox root folder. There were two executables - one for Windows (Xbox 360 MSP Generator.exe.), one for OSX (IGenerate 6.7) - both for generating "free" XBox points. Fortunately Dropbox allows you to (via their web interface only) view the versions and history of files. Both those files came from my iPad. Then last week it happened again with just a windows executable (iLividSetup.exe), also from my iPad.

    So some iOS app is interacting with the Dropbox app in some way (either via API or just throwing files into a folder that Dropbox must have all permissions open on). I have yet to determine which app it is. I only use 6 or 7 apps regularly, so I'm pretty sure it's not any of those, and I have yet to do a more systematic check on the other dozens of odd lesser used apps. The moral of the story is that these app stores are not foolproof by any means, and malware is still being approved, even if the attack vector is novel, dependent on a 3rd party app (dropbox) and is cross-platform.

    Anyone else see this behavior in their Dropbox files?

  • by MrEdofCourse ( 2670081 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:26PM (#41976959) Homepage

    " the "Install0us" app installed, which is to be fair used solely for app pirating."

    No it's not.

    It's also one of the easiest (and in some cases only) way you can revert to previous versions of apps. I don't pirate apps on iOS, and I rarely have a use for Install0us, but a couple of times it's saved me when a newer version of an app was unusable and Install0us was the only way to get a previous version re-installed and running again.

    In the spirit of being fair though, ya, it's mostly for pirating, but I wouldn't jump to the definitive conclusion that someone who has it on their iOS devices is pirating apps.

  • by psmears ( 629712 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @04:41AM (#41978261)

    where I have severely limited vocabulary in the local language, a good dictionary application is one of those can't-live-without things

    If you're trying to expand your vocabulary, throw the dictionary in the trash and get a thesaurus.

    ...and how does that help when you don't even know one synonym in the target language?

    And I have no idea why you'd pay $50 for a dictionary app when you could just buy the actual paper dictionary for $20.

    Clue: a good multilingual dictionary weighs several pounds. Installing an app adds no extra weight. When travelling to/around a foreign country, that can be important :-)

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus