Cracking down on crackers

Why it's not cool to steal?
Karthik Mahadevan
August 19, 2019
A picture of a smartphone on a table with multiple cracks on it with the text on screen reading “Envision”

It just doesn’t feel the same, does it? When you steal a piece of software, a very intangible artefact, it doesn’t have the same weight that you will have stealing candy from a shop. Though the software might be worth a lot more, a few taps on the screen doesn’t really evoke a feeling of guilt. But it should.

When we at Envision caught our first cracker, someone who had found a vulnerability to distribute our app for free, the first reaction was that of disbelief. This mainly stemmed from our romanticisation of our users. Our culture has such a strong belief of being in love with our users we just gasped “They wouldn’t do that!”.

When the reality set in, we put on our engineering caps and started to investigate where the vulnerability was and how to fix it. That’s when the second shocking thing happened, the user who had cracked our app had just uploaded a step by step guide of how others can do it on YouTube. On YouTube! Though this was super helpful to understand what the vulnerability was and how to fix it, we were also in awe of the audacity of the user.

Ever since then we have been hard at work building safeguards to stop people from stealing the product that everyone at Team Envision has been putting their heart, sweat and soul into. This problem was a lot more prevalent on Android than on iOS and we were disappointed at how little help we got from the Android folks to help stop it.

After several weeks of more work from our brilliant engineering team, we have managed to fix the current existing vulnerabilities and are cracking down on all the users who have been stealing the app, starting today. If you have been one of them, here’s our message to you:

Dear User,

You chose to crack and use the Envision app instead of purchasing it. It’s okay, we understand. We hope you also understand the tangible effect this has on our resources, in addition to the intangible effect on the morale of our whole team trying to build this tool for you. When you crack our app, you steal not just from us, but also cheat thousands of other paying users who genuinely need the app.

To prevent this, here’s what we will do:

  1. We will continue to crack down on all the way users are cracking our apps. If you find a new way, we will eventually find it and block it. This is our bread and butter, so we are serious about it.
  2. We will continue to search for ways to subsidize the cost of the app for those who genuinely can’t afford it. Over the past months, we have been pursuing several avenues for how to make the app affordable and accessible to people who need it. Several users across the globe have been provided with subsidised or free versions of the app in association with local organisations and institutions.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Buy the app the legal way. We have a massive Summer Sale going on, which provides up to 75% discount on our prices. This is your chance to be on the right side of this and never be afraid of the app you use so much being taken away from you.
  2. If you genuinely can’t afford it due to economic circumstances – speak to your local organisations, talk to your insurance provider, form a group of users in similar conditions — and reach out to us. We are more than happy to brainstorm and find solutions with you on how to find the best way to get you the app in a way that makes economic sense for you while not jeopardising the sustainability of the app for others.

In closing, I would just like to say that we chose to build this tool because we believe in the collective and long term good it can do. We could have spent this time and effort building any other app or game filled with ads and other money-making possibilities. Instead, we chose to do this because we feel its the right thing to do. We hope you do the right thing too.

Yours truly,
Karthik from Envision