I had a single player free-to-play (gratis, but not libre) game on my phone a couple years ago. It has no in-app purchases; AFAICT it's completely funded by ads. One feature of it is that you can get free "coins" every hour. One time I decided to run a packet sniffer on my phone's network traffic just out of curiosity, and saw that every time I open that game, it makes an unencrypted HTTP request to the developer's server, and the server sends back the UNIX time. I set up a fake server on my LAN that increments by one hour every time it is requested, regardless of how much time actually passes, and used a custom DNS server to make the app's requests go to my spoofed server. After I did this, the app let me get free coins whenever I wanted. Was this legal? I didn't modify the app code or hack the developer's server; I just reverse engineered the app's communication with the server and set up a spoofed server on my LAN.


1 Answer 1


They could take you to court for loss of income - since you were gaining coins for free instead of paying for them (essentially theft)

In the UK it actually falls under Theft as you dishonestly appropriated goods which did not rightfully belong.

Would someone chase you up on this... probably not. I'd say you're safe.

  • 1
    You can't buy the coins. The only way to get them is by playing the game for free. You get a few in the course of normal gameplay, and every hour it gives you more. All my "hack" did was make the app "think" an hour had passed when it actually had not.
    – Someone
    May 11, 2022 at 16:38
  • 1
    Apologies - in that case then no, I wouldn't say it's illegal. They aren't loosing out on anything. No loss of business.
    – bce
    May 11, 2022 at 16:43
  • Does it really work this way? Your software is "invited" onto my phone and runs there with my permission under my physical control. I decide that instead of running your software I would rather run a modified copy of your software, OR I would rather run your software on a modified phone. That is perhaps a copyright violation in many circumstances - or hacking under the CFAA - but theft?! Even if you had to buy the coins, would it really be theft to modify something you own, in order to avoid paying money? Does installing the software constitute a contract to not use it without paying?
    – user253751
    May 11, 2022 at 17:29
  • Nice, there is loss of business. You can get the game for free, but can only play say half an hour a day. If you want to play, you need to pay money.
    – gnasher729
    May 13, 2022 at 12:46

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .