23
Mar
nexusae0_rando_thumb

Alas, poor Rando, we knew it well. Actually, not that well - that was kind of the point. This photo sharing app from the developer of Whale Trail eschewed the usual reputation and tagging systems of most photo sharing services in favor of a one-at-a-time approach. But after a Russian programmer created a script to game the system and upload thousands of identical photos, thus funneling all of Rando's unique content to himself, the developers shut down the app and the service. You can read more about it in this extensive TechCrunch interview.

The idea behind Rando was refreshing, if a little anti-social: you take a photo, then share it to the service. The photo is sent to exactly one randomly-selected person, somewhere in the world, with no message or context attached. For your trouble, you then receive a photo from a different randomly-selected user. It's an interesting idea that gleefully abandons the pretense and self-satisfaction inherent to services like Instagram and Pinterest. Unfortunately Rando solves a problem that doesn't exist, and as cool as the idea is, developer ustwo couldn't find any way to effectively monetize it. Rando had a year of uptime and nearly a million downloads, somewhere between 100,000 and 500,000 on Android.

rando-artem-tiles

A Russian programmer created a script that flooded Rando with identical photos, "hogging" all the new snapshots for a single user.

The last straw for Rando came from a 20-year-old Russian programmer, who devised a way to automate the upload process and bypass Rando's admittedly feeble software protections. His script uploaded 50,000 identical photos from his account, thus ensuring that basically all of the new photos uploaded to the service would be sent to him and only him. Ustwo banned the user, but the script was already released online, and other users were giving it a try. Stopping this kind of attack would require "extensive" development for Rando's apps and servers, and apparently ustwo couldn't justify the expense and the time for a service that was more of a curiosity than an active part of the business. They removed Rando from the Play Store, the iTunes App Store, and the Windows Phone store.

Rando creator Kenny Lövrin says that ustwo would be happy to pass Rando on to someone who could make it more financially viable, but for the time being, the interesting photo sharing experiment is over. If you're feeling the loss, maybe you can track down an old Polaroid and start leaving snapshots on random bulletin boards.

Source: TechCrunch

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • Stanley Konował

    "That's why we can't have nice things," right?

    • WestFiasco

      Definitely.

    • John Smith

      I found a nice replacement for Rando: SnapSwap !!
      It looks like a much more professional version of Rando

  • siddude11

    Russians.

  • Jephri

    Thanks buddy.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Seriously. That hacker guy is literally Putin.

      • Jephri

        Artem replied to one of my comments. I feel so flattered.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Commence crazy Russian dancing. http://youtu.be/VX7gFl7xnOE

          • Jephri

            I wonder if the black eye and the guy dancing with the baseball bat are connected...

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            The guy with the black eye is Ukrainian, and the black eye at which point the bat connected to the face represents the Black Sea where Russia connects to Ukraine by water. This video carries deep political messages.

          • Jephri

            There is a job opening for a Russian diplomat in Washington. You should apply.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            The guy with the black eye is Ukrainian, and the black eye at which point the bat connected to the face represents the Black Sea where Russia connects to Ukraine by water. This video carries deep political messages.

          • serzhanja

            ОТДЫХАЕМ ХОРОШО!

      • darkdude1

        I disagree - whilst it's easy to just blame the hacker, the truth is, this bug should never have existed, and was a very basic oversight on the developers part. Adding rate limiting to an API should take no more than 15-20 minutes, obviously the more complicated the architecture, the more complicated the solution - but you need to remember the basic foundations or it'll just break.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          You sound like a rebel. Prepare to be annexed.

        • TY

          Still, you cannot deny that the hacker has intentionally done a bad thing.

        • TY

          Still, you cannot deny that the hacker has intentionally done a bad thing.

        • drawkcaB

          There are two types of hackers.
          Morally sound ones who find a bug and report it looking for a bounty or a pat on the back
          And the above guy who all out exploits the flaw to cause chaos.

          Just because the project had a loophole doesnt mean it "deserved" to be exploited to the point of destruction.

          • MiS

            Wrong, kid. So many years have passed and people still didn't learn. Do you know the difference between a hacker and a cracker, Sir?

          • drawkcaB

            Start with kid and end with sir? Did your two sentences take so long to put together that you feared my entire life passed me by?

            Look up about white hats and black hats. Both are hackers btw I'm not going all Dr. Seuess on you

        • Sabin Bajracharya

          He could have just warned the developer!

          If you find a way to hack a bank and you do it then your a criminal!

  • darkdude1

    This again highlights the importance of proper QA and vulnerability testing.

    • RossoXIII

      Not every app needs to be a safe. The purpose of Rando was to be something fun. What was the purpose of the attack? Did it helped protect the end users? I don't see how.
      So what if the app had a loophole, Just because something is fragile that doesn't entitle other people to exploit those vulnerabilities, specially if the end result is simply to harm. This type of people are shit and this behavior should not be tolerated. The day will come when a judge will tell the reason you got shot was because you weren't wearing the "mandatory" bullet vest. Then you can call it an oversight.

  • WestFiasco

    It sounds like the only reason the programmer did what he did was because he could, quite crappy.

  • daas88

    I had fun with that app, I got some interesting pictures from around the world.

  • IncCo

    This is why we can't have nice things..

  • Wesley Modderkolk

    That's a pretty good troll if you ask me.

    Also, this immediately shows the issue with the current app environment, pretty much anyone can go and release an app to the app store, he/she could very likely have no experience in security and you end up with this, or worse.

    • Roger Siegenthaler

      Because this is bad... how?...

      There's no security flaw in this, people shouldn't be uploading sensitive images in the first place. All it did was ruin the fun.

      • Wesley Modderkolk

        This is bad because someone can flood the server with the same images over and over again.

        If it can happen here due to incompetence(sorry to say it this way), then so can it anywhere else. Anyone remember the 3 million phone numbers which were leaked due to Snapchat's great security?

        • Roger Siegenthaler

          Except it isn't bad for this server because there isn't any personal information to be stolen. So big woop, no need to over-engineer everything the whole time.

  • Vasilis K.

    What a pitty... One of my favorite apps... I hope this russian guy gets his PC burned, and his smartphone too!!!

  • John Smith

    The Rando dev's were a little bit disconnected to say the least; People were already uploading all-black and all-white images. Additionally they allowed the app to be used by people that blocked GPS.... which just ruined the experience.

  • Denis Bulichenko

    There's a great alternative - http://photosuerte.com

  • Jane

    Wahh. I hope someone takes it over I enjoyed Rando much more than twitter or instagram.