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iTunes Accounts Hacked, App Store Swamped With Rogue Developers

Reports of Hacked iTunes Accounts
While most of us were relaxing and getting our BBQ on this weekend, a story was breaking that saw rogue developers hacking iTunes accounts and buying their own apps to both steal your cash and improve their own App Store rankings. In particular, Asian developer Thuat Nguyen has hijacked accounts across the globe and pushed 40 apps into the top 50 of the books category and racked up over $1,000 in charges on some accounts. But though Nguyen appears to be the largest offender -- and the first to draw media attention -- it (he?) is hardly alone.

Thuat Nguyen is just one of several "app farms" that have sprung up to scam users out of their money. Another one of them, 'Storm8,' has already been busted for collecting the phone numbers of its customers and has been accused of charging for "points" in their games without a player's approval. Some of the rogue developers are using hacked accounts to simply purchase their own apps, while others are using the in-app purchasing feature to milk customers for dough after luring them in with a free game.

Of course, there are numerous signs that the developers and applications are a scam. Links to support pages and developer sites are empty landing pages. Almost all of the app icons are poor quality images and any positive reviews the apps receive are from suspicious accounts likely run by the developers themselves and written in poor English.

Apple, for its part, has done almost nothing in response to the clearly widespread problem. The advice it has offered customers whose accounts have been compromised is to change their password and remove their credit card information, which isn't much of a help to those who have already been taken for hundred of dollars. Though Apple has removed Thuat Nguyen and all associated apps, plenty of other "app farms" remain, including the previously mentioned 'Storm8,' which was called out late last year, and 'Charismaist,' which has reportedly robbed customers of over $600.

Not only is it troubling that developers slip through the cracks of the temperamental Apple approval process, but it's especially disconcerting that they appear to thrive despite obvious warning signs of impropriety, especially given Apple's high-profile problems with the arbitrary nature of application approval. There is also concern as to how the rogue developers gained access to enough accounts to push apps into the elite top 50. We probably haven't heard the last of this problem, since many of the developers are still lurking in the app store, and Apple has yet to address the angry customers who have lost significant amounts of cash. [From: The Next Web and AlexBrie.com]

Tags: aple, app development, app store, AppDevelopment, apple, AppStore, hack, itunes, ItunesHack, safety, security, storm8, thuat nguyen, ThuatNguyen, top

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