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back to article App to manage Android app permissions

The app has been created in response to the poor permission control offered natively by Android over apps. As Facebook users have noted over the last few weeks, for example, their Android app is now demanding access to SMS / MMS, calendar events, and WiFi control. SnoopWall is one of the growing class of permission management …

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Meh

It isn't obvious how much it costs for the full version.

the free version will tell you what is spying but you need the paid version to block it. This is from their FAQ:

How much does SnoopWall cost?

In order to meet the differing needs of individuals, families, businesses and other organizations, SnoopWall is licensed on an monthly or annual basis per device.

Anyone see a price anywhere?

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Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Anyone see a price anywhere?

Only after I installed it. After playing around with the settings, it warned me I had exceeded their limit for some reason or other, and would only "warn" of dodginess until I coughed up.

The cough costs $1.29 a month.

Uninstalled.

Advice to authors. Don't call it a free app if it doesn't do what it promises without paying.

Less subtle version? FUCK OFF!

EDIT: Back to App Ops for me. It may well keep me from upgrading to KitKat on my Moto G.

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Happy

Re: Anyone see a price anywhere?

CyanogenMod 11. (Or 10.2, if you want their current stable release.)

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Re: Anyone see a price anywhere?

The custom ROM I have has a Privacy Guard built into the settings.

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Re: Anyone see a price anywhere?

"EDIT: Back to App Ops for me. It may well keep me from upgrading to KitKat on my Moto G."

If you don't mind rooting, you can run app ops on standard KitKat.

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Re: Anyone see a price anywhere?

SnoopWall is FREE for life to detect and alert you of malicious apps and spying. After investing millions into its development, I would hope you would consider the FREE version more than worth what it costs you. ONLY AFTER 30 DAYS should you be asked if you wish to have automated blocking of PORT CONTROLS, and if that is not the case, please let support@snoopwall.com know about it. If you wish automated blocking of bad or misbehaving apps with granular port controls, it's not $39.95 per year or $79.95 per year like other apps...it's $1.29 per month. If you don't think that is fair, go to privacyrights.org and tell me what your identity protection is worth to you?

I would really hope you would reconsider your position on our product as we've dedicated over a year of very hard work, R&D and significant dollars to create a product designed to help you protect your privacy.

Thanks so much for your possible reconsideration.

Warmest regards,

Gary S. MIliefsky

CEO

Snoopwall

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Re: Anyone see a price anywhere?

UN-altered REPRODUCTION and DISSEMINATION of this IMPORTANT information is ENCOURAGED

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Re: Anyone see a price anywhere?

I use Advanced Permissions Manager. It's free, you delete the permissions you don't want the app to have, it then recreates the app without the permissions, did I mention it's free? The only downside is the requirement to have "install from non google sources" enabled, but for some that wouldn't be an issue anyhow.

For security I use Kaspersky, a brand I trust implicitly on my desktop, so do on my phone too. Did I mention it's also free? I like free, it's my favourite price point.

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Re: Anyone see a price anywhere?

@Gary Miliefsky

"...it's $1.29 per month. If you don't think that is fair, go to privacyrights.org and tell me what your identity protection is worth to you?"

Bit of a low shot there? My privacy is worth a lot more than that but I do not necessarily think I should have to pay to protect it (the quote above made me think of being made an offer I shouldn't refuse or being asked how much I would pay for air). I may be incredibly naive but should we not be rooting out the source of the problem rather than putting band aids over the sores? (I know that is hopelessly utopian )

And please don't shout. It does not strengthen your case. You should definitely not shout about the thing that appears to be making people mad - it makes it look like you are advertising. I won't be a customer, sorry

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Anyone see a price anywhere?

"it's not $39.95 per year or $79.95 per year like other apps...it's $1.29 per month."

I hate, with a passion, people putting an extra spin on the figures like this. If you are going to mention other people's prices per year, give yours per year too. Yes that is still less than half of the first figure you mention, but the marketing spin of mentioning years and dropping in the figure of $1.29 instead of $15.48 is a naughty little ploy.

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Facepalm

Re: "After investing millions into its development"

LOL! Really? I find that very hard to believe. What did you spend those "millions" on, exactly, a Ferrari and a house in the Hamptons?

Funny how the voluntary contributors on XDA can create a far superior app like XPrivacy then release it under the GPL, without needing to "invest millions" or bait and switch the users.

If the development of such a trivial little tool really did cost you millions, that's a very sad state of affairs, and clearly your archaic methods need a major overhaul.

What did you do, outsource it to Fujitsu?

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Re: Anyone see a price anywhere?

That's all jolly - we all like to get paid for our work. Why try to sneak the pricing in under a FREE banner though? Say it as it is - we have an awesome app, this is how much it costs, here is a 30 day trial, take it or leave it.

This culture of tricking people into paying really doesn't work as well as being straight forward and providing a good product and service.

Make it clear from the get go before going all defensive.

Also, Millions of Ruppees, potentially, most certainly not millions of any decent currency. That seems to be a fashion nowadays - recently ran into a website based on a cheap Wordpress template, with zero alterations to it, claiming to have spent millions on the user experience. Are you in the same club? Membership is quite obviously very costly...

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Big Brother

Re: "Are you in the same club?"

Well, in addition to being a firmly established member of the Corporate Bullshit Club, and the Revolving Door Club, apparently Gary S. Miliefsky is also a "founding member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security" Club, which tells us pretty much everything we need to know about the trustworthiness of his "privacy" software.

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Re: It isn't obvious how much it costs for the full version.

Ok, we've now posted the price for the additional options on the Play store. Thank you for noticing and commenting.

The free version is free forever.

Thanks much for all you folks over the pond for your kind and wonderful comments...most of which are actually rather funny to read. I ran them through a swear-removal-translator and there's actually a lot of good ideas and information.

Your Friend,

Gary

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Re: Anyone see a price anywhere?

Sorry for the bug in the new subscription engine for the advanced features. I believe we've fixed this.

All the best,

Gary

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Re: Anyone see a price anywhere?

Is that pronounced router or roooter?

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Re: Anyone see a price anywhere?

how about a cup of coffee a day? I knew I should have started a non-profit.

Your friend,

Always,

gary

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Re: "After investing millions into its development"

Ruples

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Happy

Re: "Are you in the same club?"

and what does it tell you?

I guess anyone in the UK who served their country is also suspect? Or swore an oath? Hmm...that would be....most of England?

Sorry, it tells you nothing about SnoopWall. Our promise is real.

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Bronze badge

This App is a Scam and Obvious Malware

I'm actually really disappointed in El Reg for posting this article. On their recommendation, I downloaded the app. Huge mistake.

1.) This app turns your Wifi, Bluetooth and NFC antennas on all the time. If you try to turn them off, it turns them back on automatically. This will reduce your battery life to basically 2 hours on any top end phone.

2.) This app is unable to be uninstalled or prevented from running. It makes itself the admin on your phone. If you try to uninstall it, it fails with no message as to why. If you go to manage the app, the buttons to kill it are grayed out. When you go to Google Play to try to get rid of it, the uninstall button is replaced with a "deactivate" button. Pressing that button does nothing except pop an error message that it must be deactivated before uninstalling. Googling "how to uninstall Snoopwall" returns basically no usable results. Luckily Googling "how to deactivate apps" returns some useful data.

3.) As some others have mentioned, the app has something like 500 fake reviews on the Google Play store. Some of them have "Mickey Mouse" type names, others are designed to look more real. Basically every review after the first 500 or 600 are 1 star reviews. There were 60 some at last count.

Please, everyone in this thread, go report this company and app to Google. This kind of scam malware shit should not be tolerated. In my opinion, El Reg should retract this story and publish an apology for it.

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Alert

Re: This App is a Scam and Obvious Malware

I've done some research myself and must agree with you.

I did look at it in the Play store and the shills are obvious. I reported it as well.

Gary hurt himself with his comments, and I thank him for exposing his low tactics.

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Re: This App is a Scam and Obvious Malware

Sorry you feel that way but our application is not malware, it's a security product. Here are answers to your complaints:

1) Please watch our new introductory video which is now part of the install.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9byeyNyautQ

We can't be a port authority without controlling ports. We now recommend you turn off the ports you wish right away by default and save those settings to increase battery.

2) Here's how to uninstall it (from the link in our built-in help file):

https://snoopwall.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/201186946-Why-is-the-uninstall-button-greyed-out

More details:

You can uninstall SnoopWall by:

1. Head to the Settings screen of your Android device

2. Click on Security

3. Click on Device Administrators

4. Uncheck SnoopWall in the Device Administrators list

5. Head back to the Settings screen and click on Apps

6 Look up SnoopWall in the Apps list, select SnoopWall, and then click

uninstall.

3) While I'm honored that Mickey Mouse has reviewed us, I don't sleep at night focusing on the 60 negative 1 star reviews. My entire team is focused on making sure people understand our solution better. If you still, after reading this reply wish to uninstall it, you shall be a voice that we miss.

We take customer feedback very seriously. Please reconsider us.

Much appreciated and warmest regards,

Gary

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But...

Rich, this app requires permissions to everything on the phone (expected), but there's nothing in the article to suggest why I should trust SnoopWall or their app.

For an app that's supposed to police permission over-reach, it has a lot of unexplained permissions.

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Re: But...

Sir,

How are we supposed to be a port authority, based on our patent-pending concept, NOT as a rootkit or jailbroken solution for the 'masses' without doing what we do? There's simply no other way. Only 2% of android users understand how to build a SECURE OS phone on their own with free tools and that requires violating warantees and jailbreaking. We're trying to protect 100% of the users.

Please watch this video for a better explanation and I hope you will reconsider us:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9byeyNyautQ

Thank you sincerely for your consideration.

Warmest regards,

Gary Miliefsky, CEO

SnoopWall

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But...

I came, I saw, I uninstalled (with difficulty).

Advertising as "free" may not be actually dishonest but is misleading in the circumstances. "Free one month trial" or "free limited basic version" would be better. Actually I think this is a Google PlayStore problem, they should not allow app makers to label a teaser version of a product as "free" without prominent qualification of that description.

Yes, sure, I understand that the guy needs to make money from the app but just be upfront about it. I want to know that BEFORE I download and install. I might consider buying it for a few dollars one off payment but IMHO $1+ a month for the rest of my life for something google should be (and soon will be?) providing as part of the OS is too much. Yes I know there are other security apps costing more - haven't bought those either. "Pile it high, sell it cheap" has been demonstrated to be a good business model.

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Gav

Re: But...

Gary,

You have a nice app here, if it does what it claims. But you have a problem.

You have a ridiculous pricing plan and a deceptive "free" app that's tricky to de-install, and offers no help in de-installing. This is not how you establish trust, and trust is everything in the business you are in. If you had been more honest with what you free app didn't do (i.e. absolutely everything that the user installing it wanted it to do), and made it easier to deinstall I'd be much happier to trust you. You didn't.

Consequently I'm not ready to trust your app to do what it claims, and I don't trust it to have the sort of control over my phone that it may need to work. And I am certainly not giving you a monthly subscription so that you can demonstrate you can be trusted.

You have a problem.

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Gav

Re: But...

One other thing Gary; the totally fake reviews you have on Google Play do nothing to help.

Anyone else with 5 mins to spare; try doing some image lookups on the photos of the google+ profiles that are singing this app's praises.

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Bronze badge

Re: But...

How can your product be trusted with personal data when you can't even be trusted to obey the House Rules ...

5. No spam, no links to porn – don't pimp your own website, blog or business.

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Re: But...

We promise not to eat spam anymore. We will not link to porn. We fired our pimp.

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Re: But...

To become a port authority without rootkitting, we do what we have to do to protect those who actually are willing to trust us. Feel free to test SnoopWall for backdoors, holes, spyware, malware, covert channels, etc.

Then, as you seem to not trust your friends anymore from over the pond, please grab NQ.com's antivirus....enjoy. Don't read muddywaters research on them....just get their product because you know you can trust them...their public, 250m in the bank....go for it.

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Bronze badge

Re: But...

> We promise not to eat spam anymore. We will not link to porn. We fired our pimp.

Nevertheless, you persist in pimping your own business in contravention of the House Rules here.

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FAIL

Re: But...

Yeah, what?

The business is apparently built on "you can't trust anyone else in the play store, but you can trust us" and there's no evidence as to why and plenty of unusual permissions that I would suspect indicate malware from anyone.

e.g. Phone calls

directly call phone numbers

reroute outgoing calls

read phone status and identity

I maybe get reading the IMEI for your billing requirements, but calling phone numbers and routing calls have nothing to do with the headline of "stopping those naughty apps with their dodgy permissions".

Neither does the nanny crap with "stopping texting while driving" which is what? Some kind of parental setting for people who have children that are somehow old enough to drive, but not old enough to take responsibility for their own phone, and that requires the GPS to be on all the time?

Maybe you should have invested less millions in development and done one thing well, with a minimum permission set so you could explain why you need each one. Instead you're an example of why the permission model on android is ridiculous.

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Re: But...

Keep digging, I'm more and more convinced this is a scam.

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If you do decide to try it, you need to remove Snoopwall as a device administrator before you can uninstall it.

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Pint

Thank you for posting this...

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Looks dodgy as fuck

Hidden sneaky costs, a shitton of permissions that could be misused and loads of very fake looking reviews, id steer clear of this thing tbh.

Use Xprivacy, app ops (or one of the apps that exposes it), pdroid or lbe, they are free and work great. Xprivacy in particular works magnificently, allowing you to block or feed fake data to even the most obscure permissions apps demand.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Looks dodgy as fuck

As I said earlier, the SnoopWall version on the Play store is free for life. If you want to continue to automatically block, it costs money. Permanently free apps or apps that allege to protect you for free if not opensources are very risky. Most free apps spy on you and advertise to you. SnoopWall does not.

That's my personal promise. If you feel $1.29 per month or $9.95 per year is unfair for the additional features, I'm sorry to say we are not a non-profit organization or an open source.

My promise is that SnoopWall has NO BACKDOORS, NO ADWARE, NO SPYWARE and is CUSTOMER CONTROLLED.

Very truly yours,

Gary S. Miliefsky, CEO

SnoopWall

Proudly Made in the USA while we're still not a reclaimed colony (yet) :-) though I love England!

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Joke

Re: Looks dodgy as fuck

Why have you suddently become AC? Have you changed your permission settings?

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PS

We are still just about the United Kingdom - there are Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish here too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: PS

@handle 11:10 ...and Cornish!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Looks dodgy as fuck

> My promise is that SnoopWall has NO BACKDOORS, NO ADWARE, NO SPYWARE and is CUSTOMER

> CONTROLLED.

> Proudly Made in the USA

Those two statements are a contradiction. Land of the NSA.

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Re: Looks dodgy as fuck

Protip 1: If you're going to post as AC, don't write in the EXACT STYLE you have a FEW POSTS EARLIER with your name attached

Protip 2: If you're going to post as AC, don't SIGN your post!

Very sincerely yours,

Anonymous Coward, AC

ElReg

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Anonymous Coward

Re: PS

As sure as death and taxes, as soon as someone substitutes English for British we get pompous twats extolling their superior knowledge of the British Isles. I think we can forgive this poor chap for his heinous crime against the insecure because guess what...no one outside this country gives a shit that we split ourselves into four and why should they?

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Re: PS

...posted by someone so "insecure" that they have to press the Anonymous Coward button?

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Re: Looks dodgy as fuck

Which two statements? Dodgy or fuck?

A promise is a serious matter.

Mi6 over and out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: PS

Try calling a Canadian an American: despite being part of the american continent the possibility that the term might make them sound like they are citizens of the USA causes them extreme grief (understandably) .

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Anonymous Coward

Re: PS

To be fair it only matters if you should know better. Like suggesting a Limburger is from Holland :)

Just don't compound the error. Seeing an American earnestly try to the nice lady from Cork that he knew that she was British and not English, and then that Ireland was part of Britain was pretty entertaining.

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Headmaster

Re: PS

"no one outside this country gives a shit that we split ourselves into four and why should they?"

Because I am not "English".

Calling everyone in the UK "English" is like calling Canadians "American".

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Re: PS

The US and Canada however have different passports, governments, emabassies etc. They are different countries. Last time I checked, at least until this September, everyone in the UK shares those things - this business about Wales, Scotland, England being different countries is nonsense - they are actually like states or provinces.

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Headmaster

Re: "different passports"

Nonetheless, the fact that we all share the same central government does not magically transform a Scotsman into an Englishman.

Moreover, your point about countries only serves to reinforce that point. Insofar as there is no longer any such country as Scotland, equally there is no such country as England, so deciding to call us all "English", on the basis that we all share the same central government, is wrong even by your own standards.

The country is called The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or just the UK for short. If you want to refer to the people of that country then call them British, not English. Although technically Britain is only one island of the UK, so for example the people of Northern Ireland, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, the Shetlands, the Hebrides and so forth are not British, even though they are citizens of the UK. But there has never been a collective term for the citizens of the UK, and "UKish" just sounds silly.

Whether it's a country or not, only those in England are English, and even then only if they're English by birth. The rest of the UK is not, so please don't refer to us as such.

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