Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Illegitimate software now available for your smartphone

Have an Android-based phone? Like getting your software for “free” from shady websites? Then you might be a mark for what seems like an April Fool’s prank – only this prank goes on all year long.

When I previously blogged about the downsides of using pirated software, I focused on software for traditional computers. Now that apps are all the rage among smartphone users, you can expect serious (and embarrassing) problems like the ones this fake app causes:

Once the fake software–which Symantec has dubbed “Android.Walkinwat”–is downloaded and running, it displays a dialog box that indicates that the app is in the process of being compromised or cracked, ostensibly to scare the person who thinks they’re getting the legitimate app for free. Behind the scenes, the software is gathering sensitive data–including username, phone number, and unique device identifier–and trying to send it to an external server, Symantec says.

The app also sends out a text message (rife with misspellings and errors) to all the numbers listed in the user’s contact list: “Hey, just downloaded a pirated App off the Internet, Walk and Text for Android. Im stupid and cheap, it costed only 1 buck.Don’t steal like I did!”

Elinor Mills further explores the matter in her CNET News article.

While I’ve already blogged about this topic, I kinda like what this app does. Few people openly admit to using pirated software since society still stigmatizes such behavior. Broadcasting one’s use of pirated software to everybody in one’s contact list the way this app does might straighten a few people out – or keep them from traveling the pirate path in the first place.