One of my friends recently made a website where one could download paid apps on the Play store for free. I also saw many other websites that do the same.

  1. How did he do it?
  2. Is it legal? If yes, then why?
  • 6
    This sounds like it would be better on Law.StackExchange. Nov 26 '18 at 9:50
  • @Philip Rowlands But I also want to know how did he do it? I also saw many other websites that did the same.. how do they do it? Nov 26 '18 at 9:51
  • 2
    @Philip Rowlands I think OP is asking how they are pirating paid android apps. For PC games it requires crack to run pirated copy of the game. Maybe 3rd party sites modify the app to remove DRM contents and reupload them as legitimate. Some pirates do it for fun so their copy may or may not be malicious.
    – defalt
    Nov 26 '18 at 10:24
  • 3
    I consider the question too broad and partly off-topic. The legal part is off-topic here but it is very likely illegal in most countries. Given that you don't provide any details except "made a website" one cannot say how it was actually done (i.e. too broad). But it might probably be done by extracting the installed APK from a system, modifying it a bit to remove some checks and maybe add some malicious functionality and repacking it. Nov 26 '18 at 11:01

Before I get into the details, understand that pirating software is illegal and will certainly land you in hot water.

That being said, Android apps are really easy to pirate. An .apk file is really a collection of obfuscated Java bytecode, which can be easily reverse engineered to produce the original source (though, of course, with illegible method names, etc.) It won't be a perfect copy of the original source code, but it will allow a pirate to remove parts where licenses are checked, trials are consumed, and possibly add more code that circumvents in-app purchases.

Most apps are obfuscated using ProGuard, though Google is trying out a new obfuscator in Android Studio 3.2 and above. It's unknown how effective the new obfuscator is. Developers need to understand a determined person could reverse engineer just about anything.

Again, this is illegal. Don't attempt to crack paid software.

As to why it's illegal, there's laws and regulations such as the DMCA that heavily regulate piracy. You can be subject to lawsuits for criminal copyright infringement. This is applicable in the US and probably many other countries.

  • Not only is it often illegal as in explicitly prohibited by law, but it's also often "illegal" in the sense of someone could sue you and win over it. Generally, when you use an app, you agree to the ToS. Chances are, that ToS has a prohibition against reverse-engineering.
    – Nic
    Jul 2 '19 at 17:53

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