I’ve reviewed a bunch of mobile apps that promise to help you text while walking or in motion without forcing you to not pay attention to where you’re going, but this is the first time I’ve seen an app that actually proactively takes action against its owner if the owner has pirated the app.
The rogue Android App, Walk and Text, is not an official version of the app from the developers, and it’s listed as a version number that doesn’t exist (1.3.7.) Essentially, the only way to get it is to get a pirated copy of the app – one that includes the trojan that’s lying in wait under the surface for you to install and try to run it.
Once the app is installed, it’ll display a screen to you that makes it look like the app is cracking or installing itself, or setting itself up in some other capacity. What it’s really doing behind the scenes is taking your name, your phone number, your phone’s ID information (your International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI number,) and anything else it can get to an external server.
Then, and perhaps this is the clincher if the previous weren’t bad enough, the app sends an SMS to everyone in your contacts list that tells everyone that you pirated an app and how cheap you are. The SMS looks like this:
Yowch. That’s pretty harsh.
While I have no love for piracy, I think this one might go a little too far. Maybe if it sent a message to your own e-mail address or something, or did something clever that stayed between you, the app, and the people who knew you pirated it, I wouldn’t think too much of it. Then it’d be harmless.
This, on the other hand, is anything but harmless, and the folks collecting that data are slowly building a repository of data about mobile devices and their owners that they could do just about anything they want with, including sell it to the highest bidder. The SMS to all of your contacts too is pretty underhanded, I don’t think anyone would want their family, friends, or worse employers to get a text message like that.
Admittedly, the folks behind it would say “well then, don’t pirate apps,” which I think is a good moral of the story now that we’ve all heard it. It won’t stop me from feeling a little sympathetic to the people who get busted by it, though.