The next time you're cruising one of the various Android app piracy forums looking for the free crack for ROM Manager or Root Explorer, be warned that you may get more than you're looking for. A new bit of malware named DKFBootkit has been found attached to pirated apps that require root. It hooks itself into the boot sequence by altering files in the system, and can cause all sorts of problems without the user being aware. Since you think it's a legit application, you say OK when it asks for root privileges, and you are owned. It's bad news all around.

The good news is that it's easy as hell to avoid. That's the part of these types of stories that never seems to get mentioned. Use a bit of common sense -- you download a file from someone who is able to crack a legit app and defeat any license checks, and you don't think they can drop a bot or keylogger in there as well? Idiocy like this is what keeps malware alive on Windows desktops, and Android devices. Stop stealing apps, and don't be stupid enough to trust someone who steals and redistributes them. Period. Full stop.

If you didn't pay for it, chances are you'll wish you did. And you deserve it. 

More: NQ Mobile

There are 60 comments

icebike says:


Playah0101 says:

Jerry, I agree with you 95% of the time, but I think you are going a little too far.

I agree that developers should be paid for their apps, and piracy is an extremely large problem, especially on android. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that everyone who pirates an app should have a bot virus dropped on them, have their identity, credit card information taken from them.

This use to be the response from movie studios, and the music industry, the old trojan inside of Napster/Kazaa downloads, because well, you pirated their movie/song. I don't think that argument holds water.

I speed on the highway, I can admit that, but does that mean because I am breaking the law by speeding someone can drive me off the road? Take advantage of me in another way? I also don't think a pirater who only uses and doesn't distribute pirated apps shouldn't be prosecuted as severely as they have been, to try to set some kind of example. Prosecuting a few piraters doesn't combat piracy at all, nor set any kind of example.

There is no easy solution, but legitimizing the victimizing of piraters doesn't appear to be anything close to an answer.

Insp_Gadget says:

Ever watch the show "1,000 Ways to Die"? The people that die on that show typically die because they were doing something wrong. Did they deserve to die? That's a question best left to philosophers. The point is they died because they did something they had no business doing.

Same can be said for those that get infected by most malware when they obtain apps illegally. Jerry's post is spot on.

Regarding bots, keyloggers etc, the same is true for ROMS too, one assumes.


(edit, added clarification re: bots and keyloggers)

ishore99 says:

Short but VERY WELL PUT.

mattyb1085 says:

That's what she said!

sag7392 says:

This is why you should pay for apps, that often cost less than a cup of coffee.

DDReaper says:

Free Share is not steal ! It's juste perfect counterfeiting and there are lots of debats about that, so do not sum up that in few words.

And i will not pay 5$ for a file explorer that should be INCLUDED in android.
Instead i use rom toolbox wich is free :)

jeffrok says:

Spelchek d0de..

Anyway, if a person who works hard to create a program decides he wants to charge $2-$5, just because you don't feel like paying for it does not give you the right to pirate it.

Just because Android did not include a file explorer, does not give you the right to pirate someone else's.

I don't buy you "perfect counterfeiting" thing either.. There's one thing if someone decides to re-write a similar app, but I seriously doubt anyone would "perfectly counterfeit" a program just so it can be free. Makes no sense to put all that work into something, and then offer it for free.

ilaifire says:

But that is what intellectual "theft" is though, a perfect copy, not theft. In theft there is an object, say a chair, that one person owns, if someone steals the chair then they have it and the original owner is no longer in possession of it. But that same analogy for intellectual "theft" would be that person A has a chair, person B looks at it and then makes an identical chair, now both person A and B have a chair, so the chair was not stolen from A, just copied.

As to your "seriously doubt anyone would "perfectly counterfeit" a program just so it can be free", it is quite simple. The big difference between you and the poster you are responding to is your fundamental belief of what "ownership" covers. You believe everything can be owned, many liberators and linux hackers believe that information is the communal property of the entire human race. I'm certain that you can agree that a person who's beliefs are strong enough they might willingly strap explosives to themselves and go kill a bunch of people because there are documented cases of this (in fact, I'd be willing to bet every single person who has voluntarily taken a suicide mission or committed a suicide attack did so because they believed that it was the right thing to do). So if people are willing to go to such extremes for things they strongly believe in, isn't it reasonable that those who strongly believe information is communal property would release perfect counterfeits for free?

icebike says:

In one stunning paragraph you managed to glorify suicide bombing and equate it with copyright violation.


You sir, are a dangerous individual.

He isn't glorifying it, he is using valid reasoning to say people will do something, sometimes even extreme, because they believe in it. I agree with his statement more than I do the blog authors simplistic article that basically says that "they get what they deserve". One requires thought, the other doesn't.

Insp_Gadget says:

Intellectual property is still property. Your idea of counterfeiting it and not calling that theft is just plain wrong and misguided. When you buy an app, you're buying a license to gain utility from the app. You're buying the right to use the app's capabilities.

When you obtain an app illegally, you are gaining use of another person's hard work without compensating that person for their work. It's just like having someone perform any service for you (like cleaning or delivering) and then not paying them once they performed the work. You stole their hard work. And that makes you a thief.

ilaifire says:

There is one problem in your cleaning analogy. Mind, most app developers don't fall into this (hel most software developers don't fall into this either). There is a difference between getting paid after you do a job and extorting extra money for a job you did years ago. This is specifically a problem with the major companies or more niche applications. A Windows license costs ~$150, Adobe Photoshop $200, Vector NTI (DNA mapping software) is $1000 *ANNUALLY*, and bloody Disney has had the copyright length extended to the life of the creator plus 70 years. In all of these cases the people who actually did the work are receiving none of the gargantuan profits the companies are making (the only thing that changed in Vector NTI since it was bought by Invitrogen and the price got jacked up was they added the ability to order DNA primers from inside the program (all orders are fulfilled by Invitrogen) and Walt has been dead for 46 years now). The way intellectual property laws are now are just licenses to print money, or more accurately for highway robbery since unlike "pirating" where no one losses anything with intellectual property laws the end user losses a bunch of money they shouldn't be.

Younjulius says:

Whatever helps you sleep at night.

hmmm says:

I suppose the same could be true of any ROM developer as well right? I always install ROMS from developers that seem to be well known in the Android forums but it still makes me nervous knowing anything could be in there.

drhere says:

Bravo Mr. Hildenbrand.

Weirdo0815 says:

Every time a friend or family member tells me they have a virus, I always ask three questions:
1. What did you search for on the web?
2. Were you familiar with the website URL/Name of the search result you clicked on?
3. Did you download a file from said search result?
The answers to these questions usually result in the person having an "ah crap" moment where they realize they shouldn't have done what they did.

As you say, Jerry, people need to use common sense when doing things on the web, either on a computer or smartphone. I tell people that you need to treat every web page you go to like you do every other driver on the road, they are out to hurt you until they prove otherwise!

And as a decent/honest human being, I hate to see people pirate apps, especially the ones that cost less than a gallon of gasoline or a gallon of milk...

Synycalwon says:

Working in the IT field for the last 15+ years has taught me that common sense isn't all that common anymore. Or what I refer to as critical thinking skills. Many people either don't have those skills or fail to use them at all. I see it every single day. It really is as Ron White says, "You can't fix stupid!" :(

UncleMike says:

I've said this before - caution and common sense are all you need to have a malware-free Android experience. People who knowingly download pirated apps deserve what they get.

I made the mistake of introducing my 13-year-old to GetJar. While the GetJar site itself is not associated with pirated apps, they do offer some apps for free that are still paid apps in the Play Store. This gave my son the false impression that other sites offering paid apps for free are also okay. When he asked me about a site whos name is a combination of "apps" and "a word for large bodies orbiting the sun", and told me he had already downloaded two apps, I had him immediately remove them, followed by me installing Avast on his phone and performing a scan. Needless to say, his "download first and ask questions later" approach has been corrected.

pmjohnson99 says:

Downloaded and PAID for Root Browser last night. 99 cents isn't too much to not have to burn my device.

Bbeelzebub says:

I use tons of bootlegged apps (Proud to be an app thief!). Never had a problem yet. It's all about knowing what is on your phone, looking for suspicious activity and using your head as to the source of the pirated app. If I wanted to pay for apps, I'd be using an iPhone and be getting better quality apps in the first place.

TurbineTech says:

You sir, deserve to have the dog shit slapped out of you.

chubb says:

Exactly. I remember people that would pay 10 bucks a year for all the paid apps you want. Then laugh at the problems they had. Just pay the buck and support the people that make the enjoy.

chisox05matt says:

wow could you be anymore of a douchebag? So do you steal music as well?

dyinman says:

Goes to show the world is full of dicks.

Gearu says:

"We must measure what we might gain by what we might lose."
-Colonel Hessler in The Battle Of The Bulge.

cashxx says:

Apps that you shouldn't be downloading anyway? They shouldn't be available to download if they are dangerious.

icebike says:

Tell that to the hackers that run these dodgy download sites.
Hint these apps are not in the Android Market or the Amazon market.

Welcome to the internet. Hope you enjoy the visit before returning to your own planet.

Jezz_X says:

LOL yeah he kind of missed the point of this post. Its for people who get paid apps from "other sources" without actually paying for them not getting them from proper markets

I understand pirating PC games cause they're too damn expensive...but are people really that cheap to pay $5 for a useful app?!

chubb says:

In America, yes. Its the entitlement mentality that runs rampant here. Everyone wants everything for free, but wants everyone to pay for their hard work.

I agree with his comment on video games, most "intellectual" content is working harder and harder to drain the pockets of would be customers. Look at the way they distribute content now, a "brand new" game will include a code for downloadable content, once that code has been used.. the next person has to buy that "downloadable content" for additional money. This reduces the number of people who can sell LEGIT used video games.
Or how about all those GLU mobile games that are free to play, but you would have to spend more than a CONSOLE video game if you wanted to get the whole experience?
Or you buy a game on Android that costs more than a few dollars, download the additional content(that takes over 15 minutes to download, there goes your refund), and find out it freezes constantly? Or it just plain blows..
Or college textbook digital copies that cost more than a third of the new price, expires after a certain time.. or college textbooks being rented over and over? Both purposes to keep customers paying for the same content over and over and avoid having used copies floating around.

Sure, you can just call people "entitled", but the way that companies are marketing doesn't match the demand and resources of their customers. I will gladly buy a "donation" version of someones app for android when they offer a fully or mostly functional free version of the app, rather than pay for most apps which truly aren't worth the money anyways.

3rdpig says:

So you're cool with stealing once something is outside a certain price range? Damn dude, why stop at PC games, why not go right on to jewelry and gold bullion?

chisox05matt says:

so in your world, stealing cars would be ok as well.?

Pirating doesn't equal to stealing. When you steal, you remove an original. When you download a copy, you get just that, a copy. And my main point still stands, games are too expensive! Only a few games worth a standard $60. Most are around a $30-$40 range.

chubb says:

Now I get what your saying. Something is only worth what you think it is. Then if said owner do sent agree, then you can just steal it. So when I go to the Ferrari dealer and don't like the price, I can just go out and steal one then. Or a house. Id rather pay nothing for a house than the 175k plus price, so I'll steal it from the owner. Then I'll cry to the judge when he wants to send me up state for 15 years that I just didn't think the house was worth what they wanted. Your probably the guy that spends 10 bucks a day on coffee and food that you could.make at.home for 3 and spend that other 7 on apps and games.

I think you missed that second and third sentence in my last response...

chubb says:

You dont have a leg to stand in. Its people like you that want everything for free. But what you don't realize is that if no one pays for stuff people stop making stuff. If everyone stops buying music, or music then there will be no new music. Only big big names will get pushed. Same goes for software and video games. If you think 50-60 bucks is a lot for a game your a cheap ass motherfucka.
Go ahead and create a NFS or GTA 4 type game yourself and sell it for free. You wouldn't get a block finished before you ran outta support and cash. And if you had the cash you wouldn't spend 100 mill on this game like EA and the many others do.

chubb says:

Any way Russian guy. Who are you to.say what content is worth? Seems like you want all for damn near free.

chubb says:

Pirating doesn't equal to stealing. When you steal, you remove an original. When you download a copy, you get just that, a copy. And my main point still stands, games are too expensive! Wow
Like I said you only want to pay what you feel is fair. Ha. Youll steal content no matter what huh. I want to know where you work so I can steal your services

chubb says:

My grandpa always told me. Don't trust a foreigner, especially a Russian.

Aww, it seems I've struck a nerve!

chubb says:

Yea you did. If you actually created content PR
Woe wanted you wod have a different tone. But since you don't create anything people want you want to cry. I like paying for apps I use daily. Unlike some cheap asses.

Insp_Gadget says:

Pirating = stealing. You can dress it up with any kind of justification you like, but it's still theft.

The time and energy that the developers took to write the code, draw the graphics, create the sound effects, develop the algorithms, etc. that make up the app is all worth money.

You may not see the value, but that doesn't make it any less valuable to the people that did the work. Your opinion of what their work is or isn't worth does not give you the right to 1. make a copy to give to someone else, or 2. obtain a copy for free, getting use of the product without paying for it.

Intellectual property is still property, and if you steal it (get a copy without paying for it), you're a thief. Period. Contrary to what the pirates say, when you obtain software you are buying the personal USE of the software, not the right to redistribute it.

If you fundamentally don't believe that people should be able to charge for software, then don't use the software in question. Your belief doesn't give you the right to obtain use of their hard work without paying for it. Doing so is theft. And you should be procescuted accordingly.

Lothinator says:

Meanwhile, Google has made it EVEN HARDER for (former) pirates to reform their ways.

Pirated a paid app and want to go legit? Head off to the Play Store and try to buy it. I dare you. You can't.

The paid app will show as "Purchased", but you won't be able to download it since you obviously didn't buy it. It won't give you a Buy prompt either - you're stuck.

Formerly, that was no big deal. You Uninstalled, cleared cache, rebooted, waited a day or so at most, and it would show as available for purchase.

Since the Play Store upgrade, however, that erroneous "Purchased" status is PERMANENT. It never goes away.

Which, of course, means that you will NEVER be able to buy a legit copy of "Super Snake Doodle 2012 Premium" on the Play Store and are encouraged to keep on pirating.

Way to go, google.

chubb says:

That's a good thing. I applaud google for that. I love how people will steal a $1 app. But won't steal a 50¢ coffee or 1.30 chocolate milk.

Have stolen both actually (grade school), but I'm just trying to make a point that people will steal anything. I for one have never stolen an app, but I haven't bought many either.

chubb says:

Okay. Maybe to make this make sense. If you designed an app and charge $1 for it. Would you rather have 10 million. buy the app or 1 million buy it and 9 million pirate it.

icebike says:

Too bad it doesn't say Stolen, instead of purchased.

cyanogen-man says:

YES COMOM FUCKING SINCE! !!!! I do pay for apps but somethings I would love to pirate as I have that I really really want but no money =poop on a stick while I drupe you super nerds gonna flip out but I'm still stuck with vista of all things I have 4 data ports open and an extra power adapter in my case I want an sad drive so I can dual boot invade I have install issues with 7 well sad drive es cost about 95 bucks windows 7 home cost 135 for the disk I'm broke I work a post job Im seriously debating stealing an upgrade key but that's highly illegal no telling how many systems are running that key no telling how many boys they can attach to. My system to hi Jack my files so no I'm just going to suck it up save up had buy it legit and my poor52 year old mother clueless about mal ware clicks every link in her soaked out yahoo mail box I've had to do atleast 6 system restores gotten everything from boot viruses to hack kits because she clicked a link full of spam promising a new car orsomething outlandish she's a se purity night mare I'm going to have to stop letting her use my computer and yes I've had poisoned DNS and everything from a link when opened the email auto downloaded in stalled and my AC punt with administrative a essential basically hijacked it in less than 2 minute my system was locked I am a. Seriously saying USE COMON SINCE DAMNIT IF YOU DONT KNOW THEM DONT TRUST BETTER SAFE THEN SORRY FOR THESE REASONS I REFUSE TO DO ONLINE ANYTHING EITH MY COMPUTER HACK MY CRAP YOUR JUST GOING TO GET AN ASS LOAD OF DEATH METAL AND HARD ROCK NO TLREAL PERSONAL INFO IF YOU HACK MY ISP THATS A DIFF STORY BUT I HOPE THEY HAVE BETTER SE URITY IN PLACE NO CREDIT CARDS SCREW THAT

chubb says:

Its common sense(not since). Since you did twice wrong in CAPS I had to do it.

chubb says:

Its common sense(not since). Since you did twice wrong in CAPS I had to do it.

sfreemanoh says:

Your entire argument is rendered invalid due to the lack of punctuation. And not being able to make sense of what you typed. L2 spell check.

There are some semi-legit reasons to pirate. Say a publisher doesn't release the app for your device, which often happens, but if you were able to get the APK, it installs and runs just fine? I have had this happen with a game, which had in-app purchases, which I made, and when it was finally made available for my nook color I bought the app. Sadly I made a $15 in app purchase, never got the item, and spent far more time trying to get a refund than it was worth(over a period of months), never got it.. and that is a great example of why I hate paid apps.
If at all possible I ONLY buy the donation version of apps that developers make freely available. If an author puts an app out for FREE, and I use that app over and over again, and they have a donation version, that is where I prefer to spend my money.
Most of the apps that I paid for(that were never free) were not indispensable, that useful, or that well made.. I have a list of apps I paid for I have replaced with free apps that work better. Hell, most of the paid apps for android OR iDevices aren't really worth any money at all. What can I bet you that you can scroll through page after page of paid apps on iTunes or in the android play store without seeing any app that is actually worth money.

Actually, the only apps I have on my phone that are "paid only" apps, that I still use are.. widget locker, poweramp, and camera360(and I believe they still had some sort of trial version). Every other app I have has a fully or almost fully functional free version which I replaced with a paid version, because THAT is a marketing method I want to support.
Some apps I wasted money on, that I do not use, that were paid only apps..setcpu, delayed lock, beautiful widgets, dropsync, juicedefender, several gameloft games(they are the company I mentioned above who screws over many customers).. and that is all I could find on my previously installed list or remember. It only lists 20 pages of apps I have installed, and that only takes me to the letter L.

To the author, I support what Playah0101 said, you take it too far.. and you forget, when corporate america decides to screw you over(every chance they get) or exploit you, it is legal. Need a heart transplant but don't have the money? Guess you gotta die.
If they could charge for the air you breathe, I am sure they would.. but that is pretty much the only thing that they can't do-- yet.

And to each person who says that pirating is stealing- what did it take out of the pocket of the author? If they didn't pirate it because they can't afford it, they still won't buy it.. but perhaps if they do pirate it they will tell their friends how awesome it is which will result in several other people buying it? The makers of "world of goo" put their own game on torrents, gave it a reasonable price, and then watched as it became a huge hit via word of mouth, netting them more money than many console games make. . there is a different, smarter way to do business, one in which everyone wins- that is the future I hope to see one day.
If there weren't so many crappy movies I have spent too much money to see, maybe I would go to the movies more.. or I would rent dvds rather than pay a monthly fee to netflix because most movies aren't worth renting. Just like most apps aren't worth buying.. we have to be more cautious/wise about where/how we spend our money(unless you have an unlimited supply or just don't care), while companies are trying to figure out how to take more of our dollars rather than EARN more of our dollars. I will pay for innovation and true creativity, not this half assed crap I see more and more of everywhere, in every industry.

ridie1389 says:

What you're speaking of my friend, is a marketing technique called "fremium", and it's going to be used alot when Playstation Mobile comes out.

dyinman says:

Just pay the $.99 for cryin' out loud...

I wish people would STOP paying $.99.. almost every app that costs that little is crap, which leads them to making more crappy apps, causing people with stupid ideas for apps to make their OWN crappy app.. and now the google play store is full of mostly junk. Same with apples store.
Buy good apps. Support good developers.. more good apps would get made if they didn't have to compete with the million crappy $.99 apps.

RoboWarrior says:

Wait is it okay to pirate a paid app to test it if they don't have a demo version? I mean if you don't like the app you can always delete and if you do like the app you delete the pirated one and buy the legit version on the play and support the devs.

ridie1389 says:

I've been reading through these comments and I really have to say this. There are other reasons people pirate things. Not Android apps specifically, but things like music and the like. I go to a high school that specifically serves special needs children, and many of them pirate music. Some of them are orphans who live on the school campus, others dont have any extra money, and some are just cheap bastards. But every single one of them uses the music as a coping mechanism im order to keep themselves from becoming overwhelmed and either harming themselves or others. Kids with disabilities like Autism, Asperger's Syndrome (High-functioning Autism)(Which I myself am afflicted with) Bipolar disorder, ADD, etc. Am I saying its right to pirate anything? ABSOLUTELY NOT! What I am saying is that there are times when piracy is not just a matter of selfishness (Even though there are ALOT of times that it is, I will absolutely agree with that.) When these types of people need some way to cope with a world that is far to stressful for them to handle on their own, and do not have even a dollar to spare, they often resort to circumventing payment for a copyrighted work. Again, I don't agree with it. I'm just relaying facts.