Developer bounced for gaming App Store (update: 400 accounts compromised)

Developer bounced for gaming App Store (update: 400 accounts compromised)

Summary: Over the weekend a nefarious Apple developer managed to capture 42 of the top 50 sales positions in the App Store's book category with bogus content. It's believed that he used hacked iTunes accounts to pad sales and ratings.

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Over the weekend a nefarious Apple "developer" managed to capture 42 of the top 50 sales positions in the App Store's "book" category with apparently bogus content -- and possibly sales.

Thuat Nguyen, from the suspiciously-named "mycompany," released a series of book apps in April that had little or no ratings or reviews and what appears to be artwork co-opted from Dragon Ball.

It's not completely clear, but it appears that the increase in sales may have been due to hacked iTunes accounts that were used to purchase the bogus titles in question.

Apple has responded and tacitly acknowledged that fraud may have occurred:

The developer Thuat Nguyen and his apps were removed from the App Store for violating the developer Program License Agreement, including fraudulent purchase patterns.

Developers do not receive any iTunes confidential customer data when an app is downloaded.

If your credit card or iTunes password is stolen and used on iTunes we recommend that you contact your financial institution and inquire about canceling the card and issuing a chargeback for any unauthorized transactions. We also recommend that you change your iTunes account password immediately. For more information on best practices for password security visit http://www.apple.com/support/itunes.

Update: Apple has confirmed to 9to5Mac that 400 iTunes accounts were indeed compromised in the incident (a tiny fraction of the 150 million accounts) noting that Apple's iTunes servers weren't compromised.

Image: Engadget

Topics: Enterprise Software, Mobility, Software Development

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21 comments
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  • Oops

    There goes the (illusive) protection afforded by a walled garden... ?&#160; down the drain.<br><br>Remember folks: <i>"He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither."</i> Don't let Apple fool you (after all it all started with temptation, an Apple and a big lie, right?)<br><br>Respect your freedom, <b>Say <blink>No</blink> to Apple's Orwellian World View!</b>
    OS Reload
    • RE: Developer bounced for gaming App Store

      @OS Reload
      You show your bias on your sleeve. This is the walled garden at it's finest. The developer has been expelled from iTunes and I am sure refunds to any who were wronged will be forthcoming.
      ds-ny
      • "The developer has been expelled"

        @ds-ny <br><br>Yes he was banned, alongside with many honest developers who never got a chance and who did nothing wrong besides (I guess) Apple not liking the color of their shirts.<br><br>To sum things up: Apple's walled garden works well at banning developers but the real question is: <b>Can it separate the wheat from the chaff?</b><br><br>It's pretty obvious that it can't and to me blind banning of honest contributers allied to reactive banning of dishonest ones is scary. <br><br>They do as they please and no one can say they are wrong (most are worshipers and won't even dare). To me that's Orwellian.
        OS Reload
      • Sadly no refunds. I guess you were too optimistic about it, as usual.

        @ds-ny <br><br>As <a href="http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/apple-responds-to-itunes-fraud-allegations-kicks-dodgy-developer-out/8839">Adrian says</a> in <a href="http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/apple-responds-to-itunes-fraud-allegations-kicks-dodgy-developer-out/8839">another zdnet article</a>.<br><br><i>Apple is putting end users in charge of clearing up the mess by suggesting that they deal directly with their financial institution if they feel theyve incurred any losses.</i><br><br>Apple is issuing no refunds. Orwellian indeed!
        OS Reload
      • RE: Developer bounced for gaming App Store

        @OS Reload - so what you are saying is Apple screwed up by making a walled garden and Apple also screwed up by not catching this in the first place... tell me something do you just hate Apple because they screwed you over somehow or are you just this much of a hypocritical troll?
        athynz
    • I think you picked a bad story to prove your point

      @OS Reload
      That his fraud was caught within 2 days is actually proof that a walled garden [b]does[/b] work.

      There is nothing wrong with app stores. Just the opposite, app stores are great. When Handango innovated the app store in 2007 (note that Apple later copied this in 2008, like Apple does with all their "inventions"), it made it very easy to install applications on Windows Mobile devices.

      Where Apple is being Orwellian is by not allowing you to install applications from any other sources.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handango
      [i]Handango InHand, available since first half 2007, is a on-device application store for finding, installing and buying software for your mobile device. Application download and purchasing are completed directly on the device so sync with a computer is not necessary.[/i]

      Sound familiar? Apple's App Store was released a year later, plenty of time for Cupertino to fire up its photocopiers, [b]again[/b].
      NonZealot
      • I picked the story just right

        @NonZealot

        This story exposes Apple as arrogantly acting as if they can do nothing wrong with the inevitable nefarious effects ensuing.

        George Orwell would have loved to write about it.
        OS Reload
      • Apple IS Orwellian

        They are Orwellian because they offer you no alternative to installing applications, not because they kicked a con artist out of their app store.
        NonZealot
      • Walled garden isn't walled if the walk in, right?

        @NonZealot <br><br>Sure, you have a point - Apple threw out the developer in question.<br><br>The concept of a WALL, however, means these people don't get IN to begin with. <br><br>He did, so there's no wall.<br><br>How did 'mycompany' get in? What credentials did he have?<br><br>That's the point.<br><br>Also, as iTunes is the one running the card through, it's bizarre to me that they can't as a good will gesture refund the money and then iTunes could go after Thuat's bank.<br><br>== John ==

        P.S. >>Sound familiar? Apple's App Store was released a year later, plenty of time for Cupertino to fire up its photocopiers, again. <<

        That's great! I agree about the Orwellian part too.
        jgwinner
      • RE: Developer bounced for gaming App Store

        @NonZealot
        "note that Apple later copied this in 2008, like Apple does with all their "inventions")"

        Note: MSFT is just as guilty if not more, and has actually been called on the carpet a few times (and wiggled out of some of that, IIRC) for not only with look and feel, but true IP, and attempting to crush competition.

        So they both are guilty then. (I'm not trying to be pro Apple, neither am I trying to be pro- MSFT or Pro-Linux)



        "Where Apple is being Orwellian is by not allowing you to install applications from any other sources."

        I won't disagree with the thoughts behind this.
        DaemonSlayer
  • RE: Developer bounced for gaming App Store

    So, Steve, tell me once again what value is added by vetting all the apps through the app store. Wait, maybe vetting isn't quite the right word as it appears that Apple really doesn't check or review anything at all. They just make sure they get their cut.
    DT2
  • RE: Developer bounced for gaming App Store

    It's a shame that you APPLE haters can't get a life. When I dislike a product I just don't use it. No complaints, No problems, but you yaps need something to bitch about. I am so happy to hear that there is something out there that gets you OBAMAnators riled up. If you don't like it don't use it, or is that asking to much. As they say, A FOOL IS A FOOL AND WILL ALWAYS BE A FOOL.
    vze29knp@...
    • RE: Developer bounced for gaming App Store

      @vze29knp@...

      In other words, if you see injustice or impropriety, say nothing. Don't rail against the injustice. Don't shine a light upon the impropriety. Simply turn your back and ignore the problem.

      Yeah. That works. That's how dictators come to power, and remain there. That's how economies fail. That's how nations tumble to ruin. That's how abused children and spouses continue to live in the shadow of abuse.

      This is not about product. It is about policy. Policy created and enforced by arbitrary measure, with no recourse or appeal.
      Dr. John
      • RE: Developer bounced for gaming App Store

        @Dr. John There is a difference between railing against an injustice and ranting and raving about how Apple sucks or Apple did this wrong or Microsoft did that wrong or Microsoft sucks or whatever... There ARE things all companies do wrong but it seems like whatever thing the one company does wrong gets all blown out of proportion by the trolls of ALL stripes on here.
        athynz
    • RE: Developer bounced for gaming App Store

      @vze29knp@... Okay, just pipe down with the political agenda here - it's bad enough with the Microsoft, Apple, and Linux fanbois already without opening THAT can of worms.
      athynz
  • RE: Developer bounced for gaming App Store

    A super-duper tiny fraction! So small you need a calculator with 'e' expressions (2.66666666667e-08) !

    There is a larger percentage of anti-Apple folks posting on this forum than are hurt by the Apple iTunes store. Silly 'How dare you use anything other than Microsoft' folks! They will never learn!
    The Danger is Microsoft
  • RE: Developer bounced for gaming App Store

    The fact that this problem is not being fixed properly belies the problem with corporations in the first place. Why should those people with the compromised iTunes accounts have to take the bullet for this? What sort of checks can users do to ensure that they are purchasing their content from credible sources? Sure, some people will stop using their services after this, but many more will sign up.

    iTunes needs to refund the money to these people who did absolutely nothing wrong, and pursue the GUILTY party. Leaving it up to the user is absolutely ridiculous, and iTunes and Apple are responsible. Both of them, yes. They are the ones providing a service to their customers, and if a customer's security is breached as a result of their ignorance, the customer should be compensated. Leaving it up to the customer to pursue the guilty encourages this problem, we should be encouraging people to stop.

    Those who speak up against this kind of BS need to keep doing it. Anyone who has a problem with speaking up against injustice can continue to stick their heads in the sand. In my opinion, those types don't have the right to vote on anything. Freedom of speech, or any kind of freedom for that matter, is something that should be exercised constantly.
    PRikka
  • RE: Developer bounced for gaming App Store

    Two things need to happen - one, Apple needs to even more closely examine each and every app to ensure that this does not happen again and two Apple needs to be more proactive about getting the refunds to the customers that were screwed over by this scam artist. Just like with the issue with the bumpers/ reception issue Apple's PR department needs a major overhaul.

    However, having said that...

    What I find to be really amusing and a bit sad at the same time about this particular situation is that the very same Anti-Apple trolls who complained, snarled, frothed at the mouth, railed, trolled, and b1tched and moaned about how Apple was vetting the apps are the self same people who are now complaining about how Apple's vetting process is not secure enough... and they are also the very same people who would never ever own an iPhone. Go figure. Or as someone else here would say [i]"Cue the Double Standards"[/i]...
    athynz
  • RE: Developer bounced for gaming App Store

    My iTunes account was one of those hacked. I don't buy the report that only 400 accounts were hacked. It would take a lot more than that for the apps to have a major influence on the most popular apps list.

    I have never had an account hacked before. I have 25+ years of advanced computer experience.

    The charges show a clear pattern of fraud. My credit card stopped accepting charges after they reached about $500.

    My major issue with Apple is they have not removed these charges and they have locked my account. Customer service is e-mail only and has been slow and unsatisfactory.

    The only option they have given to date is to work through my credit card company. The agent at my credit card company said this was a frequently problem with iTunes.

    I have read comments from others indicating they are having the same experience.

    A simple I'm sorry and we will remove those charges would be perfect.

    The hacking upset me a little. I'm much more upset by Apple's responses.
    billdballjr
  • RE: Developer bounced for gaming App Store

    It's quite simple without getting political. Apple is admitting that someone hacked Itunes accounts, but is saying "We know your account was hacked, but it's not up to us to give you your money back that we know we got fraudulantly."
    trust2112@...