Fraud in the App store

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Fraud in the App store

Published on October 21, 2014 with No Comments

By now it’s no longer breaking news that Thuat Nguyen and his apps have been thrown out of the iTunes store due to hacking and fraudulent rankings. Nguyen’s comic book apps managed to climb the app charts, occupying 42 of the top 50 book apps spots. But soon enough complaints came rolling in that iTunes users’ accounts were being hacked, racking up charges for app purchases not generated by these users. Apple executives and security experts were soon on the case, researching the fraud and shutting it down. They noted that only 400 of the 150 million iTunes accounts were compromised. While Apple has “stepped up security,” it emphasized that its servers were not “compromised.” Apple wants its customers to know, security is piority number one.
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These developments got app focused, math experts all jazzed up. The 400 accounts would equal a miniscule 0.0003 percent of the 150 million iTunes accounts. Consequently, it is practically impossible to achieve the rankings with such a small number of hacked accounts. Such rankings would require at least 3,000 accounts. Otherwise Nguyen would need 100 purchases per app, for 41 apps per day for 30 days, and that’s not easy to hide. Instead the possibilities are that either the fraud was automated, the servers were compromised or that it’s some sort of organized app farm crime in motion. Apple’s credibility was on the line. Meanwhile, others begged to differ, saying the math involved is flawed. And by now it’s not clear what we should believe. Well, except that we should all work harder at creating secure passwords and be very vigilant over our online accounts.

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