Feeds

'I'm a PIRATE' confessions spew from OED iPhone dictionary

Cross developers puppet innocent along with buccaneers

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Users of iOS dictionary apps from Collins, Longman and the OED have found themselves outed as pirates on Twitter, as a name-and-shame tactic used by the apps' developer backfires.

The company concerned, Enfour, apparently reckons that 75 per cent of its users are pirates, which is why it planted some code in its applications to get their Twitter credentials and post confessions into their Tweet stream. However the apps failed to finger the right people ... prompting red faces all round and multilingual apologies from the company.

The applications are mainly dictionaries and were updated at the start of November. Then some users started noticing a mysterious tweet appearing in their stream:

"How about we all stop using pirated iOS apps? I promise to stop. I really will. #softwarepirateconfession"

One of the first reports of the tweet was from Pocketables, where the disgruntled writer managed to dig up the receipt for the Oxford Deluxe Dictionary app he'd paid $50 for two years ago, but that didn't stop the tweet being sent out.

The app obviously had to ask for the user's Twitter details, which it did following the last update, but with such an old app and one bearing the Oxford Dictionary brand, the user didn't feel there was any risk involved - not to mention that other users report the applications would not run unless the Twitter details were provided.

Ars Technica has gathered a selection of reports, though it hasn't been able to pin down what's causing the inaccurate accusations - beyond establishing that not every installation is tweeting and that both jailbroken and vanilla handsets are among those which are.

Enfour did swiftly apologise, in Japanese (PDF), and provided a list of applications (PDF, also in Japanese, though the app names are in English) which are being updated to remove the anti-piracy code. Staff also apologised on Twitter, which is where the 75 per cent claim was made.

Not that the problem has disappeared, as a casual search of Twitter shows such tweets being generated every minute or so even now, so the updates are clearly a work in progress.

Piracy on mobile devices is still rife, despite the ease with which applications may be purchased, so it's not surprising to see developers trying different approaches. App stores packed with pirated content are blatant, often not even attempting to apply a veneer of legitimacy and it's disheartening to see one's work ripped off to such an extent. Enfour's idea of shaming users into paying for their software is very Japanese, but its hard to imagine many gaijin being bothered by such a tweet appearing in their stream, unless they hadn't nicked the software ... in which case they'd be absolutely livid. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Home Depot ignored staff warnings of security fail laundry list
'Just use cash', former security staffer warns friends
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.