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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Dictionary apps post false piracy confessions on Twitter

About The Author

CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

Enfour, the developer of dictionary apps such as the Oxford Dictionary app, has created an update that hijacks users' Twitter accounts to post a piracy confession, even when the app has been bought legitimately.

One of Enfour's dictionary apps.
(Credit: Enfour)

Publishers, as you might have guessed, want piracy to end. So far, though, nothing has proved to be effective. Laws? Nope. DRM? Pirates laugh at DRM. So dictionary app developer Enfour has come up with its own novel solution, but it's one that targets legitimate customers.

On 1 November, the developer rolled out updates to its apps that included an "anti-piracy" module. Once installed, the update requests access to users' Twitter accounts — an odd permission for a dictionary app. As it turns out, that access is then used to impersonate the user posting to Twitter with a false piracy confession under the hashtag #softwarepirateconfessions:

(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

This tweet appears in exactly the same form hundreds of times over.

When it afflicted Pocketables associate editor Andreas Ødegård, who had purchased the Oxford Deluxe dictionary app for US$50 in 2010, he posited that the app is targeting phones with Installous installed — an app that allows users to share cracked and jailbroken apps. (Ødegård was careful to mention that he has only used this app once — when another app he bought stopped working.)

It is plausible that this feature would target jailbroken iPhones, but it seems that even uncracked devices are falling prey, as user reviews on iTunes suggest.

According to Tracey Northcott, Enfour's vice president of International Communications, the tweets are a "bug". However, it has been two weeks since the update, and the Enfour confessions are still happening.

We're inclined to agree with Ødegård:

You don't accidentally include a feature that asks for Twitter access and then uses that access to accuse the owner of software piracy.


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MatthewY posted a comment   

WTF? That's so far beyond unacceptable. Even if it only affects cracked or jail-broken phones, despite Jobs' efforts, the DMCA ruling board upheld that it is NOT illegal to jailbreak a phone.

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