If you search on Internet, you would be able to find apps that are modified to insert code that shows ads here and there. For example, you can take the official WhatsApp Android APK and insert code to show a banner ad on some or all pages.

The modified app holds a different signature so it is not a replacement for the original app but would be a different app technically.

So, the person modifying the app would be able to make money off WhatsApp which goes against the very philosophy of WhatsApp's user experience for having an ad free experience.

I would like to know if this qualifies as a cyber-crime and if yes, what are the implications of having done so? Are there any possible legal implications?

The context is in Indian jurisdiction.

  • Ultimately, this is more of a legal question. And the answer is, more importantly, a copyright and trademark law issue because it is not against the law to show ads. Whether it is a "crime" is up to the laws in the jurisdiction. But in your scenario, the person has violated copyrights and trademarks of WhatsApp.
    – schroeder
    Nov 24, 2018 at 14:45

2 Answers 2


Such a modified app would be a derivative work of the original app, and thus would be an infringement of the copyright of the original, unless permission had been given (including an open source license which permits such modifications). That would be true in pretty much every country in the world.

In the US at least, such an infringement would normally be handled as a civil matter, not a criminal one, so it would be up to the copyright owner to file suit. I suspect that the same is true in India, but I am not at all sure of that.


Quite independent from copyright infringement, if you trick me into installing this software on my computer instead of the original one, I would suspect that this will fall into hacking territory. You cause my computer to do things that I don't want it to do, that's hacking. Whether you achieve this by exploiting some bug in my computer's software, or by tricking me into giving you my password, or by tricking me into downloading software that you modified, there's not much difference in practice.

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