Tracking Down the Android App Pirates


With the Android developer community buzzing about how easy it is to pirate apps, one outfit took it upon itself to try and track down the pirates. The results are truly shocking.

The provocatively named Android Police site last week claimed that most Android apps can be simply patched and stripped of their licensing protection . Indeed, Android Police even went as far as to produce a video demonstration entitled 'Breaking Google's Android Licensing Verification Library (LVL)' which proved just how easy it actually is. And with 49 percent of publishers making less than they had hoped for from Android development according to one new report, any hint of piracy is going to need to be stepped upon as quickly as possible.


Android app developer Keyeslabs would seem in a good position to help out, what with having introduced an automatic licensing validation tool earlier this year. In response to the Android Police report, Keyeslabs has now turned detective itself and set about tracking down the Android pirates.

In a blog posting entitled ' A Global Piracy Heat Map ' Keyeslabs explains how it did this. Noting that he had experienced very high piracy rates for his own apps, the Keyeslabs developer behind the research decided to try and find out where the piracy activity was coming from on a global scale. And so the concept of a piracy heat map was born, created to show the percentage of pirated installations of a Keyeslabs application around the world.

"I collected anonymous Flurry stats from my application for a 90 day span" the developer states "I also collected Google Checkout records for the same time span" both sources including "coarse-grained location information at the country level as to where the purchase or installation was made".

A number of assumptions were made to ensure the data was statistically relevant, at least within the bounds of an unscientific experiment such as this, and the developer was able to draw some very interesting conclusions, the most notable being:In a 90 day period the app was installed 8,659 times of which only 2,831 were legitimate purchases.
The piracy rate for this single Android App over a 90 day period was a staggering 67 percent.
Most pirated copies were located in the USA, representing 70 percent of all pirated installations.
The other big pirate bases were Australia, Germany, and the U.K.
The average piracy rate on a country-by-country basis is 66 percent.

About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...

dynamiclynk 0 Newbie Poster

Why pirate the apps it isn't like they cost that much, it is no different than walking into Walmart or some other b&m and grabbing a handful of software and try walking out.

I say just remove the anomity then see how many get stollen when people can see who stole their apps.

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