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US Feds Shut Down Pirate Android Apps Sellers

US and Europe take the fight to dealers of knock-off Android apps

On by Thomas Brewster 0

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has issued seizure orders against three websites selling pirated pirate Android apps.

It marks the first time such an order has been made against illicit app marketplaces and comes after an international investigation, which included cooperation with Dutch and French law enforcement officials.

The three domains, applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com, which were selling knock-off gear for the Google mobile OS, are now under the custody of the US federal government. Anyone who visits the sites will now be greeted by a notice from the FBI (as seen below).

Cops crash the party

“Software apps have become an increasingly essential part of our nation’s economy and creative culture, and the criminal division is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the creators of these apps and other forms of intellectual property from those who seek to steal it,” said assistant attorney general Lanny Breuer of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division.

“The theft of intellectual property, particularly within the cyber arena, is a growing problem and one that cannot be ignored by the US government’s law enforcement community,” added special agent in charge Brian Lamkin, of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office “These thefts cost companies millions of dollars and can even inhibit the development and implementation of new ideas and applications.”

To find out the IP addresses of the pirate Android apps sellers, the FBI purchased thousands of copies of popular copyrighted mobile device apps. Most of the illegal apps were hosted abroad, so the FBI coordinated with global partners to seize information on the relevant web servers. Nine search warrants were also executed in six different districts across the US.

Third-party Android stores are responsible for distributing all manner of nasty software. A report issued last week showed over 14,900 new malicious programs targeting Android were added to Kaspersky Lab’s database over a three-month period, most of which came from third-party stores.

Earlier this month, Finnish security firm F-Secure said it had found 5033 malicious Android apps in the second quarter of 2012, representing a 64 percent increase over the previous quarter.

Arrrr! How much do you know about online piracy? Try our quiz!

Thomas Brewster
Author: Thomas Brewster
Security Correspondent, TechWeekEurope
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