Scam developers find new way around Apple’s App Store checks

by Surur
April 17, 2021
app store scams

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Apple has repeatedly claimed the reason why they can not allow users to install apps from outside the App Store on their iPhones was that they would be much less safe from unscrupulous developers.  There is now increasing evidence that Apple is doing little to protect their user base, with developers consistently able to find a way around the checks.

The latest has been revealed by entrepreneur Kosta Eleftheriou, who has been on a crusade of sorts on the issue.

He reports on a game called Jungle Runner, which appears to be a simple platformer.

malware game

The app uses online ads to get new users and pretends to have been covered by CNN Turkey in the past.

However when installed, if the app detects (via geolocation)  it is being played in Turkey, this pretence is dropped, and the user interface is replaced by a web view which reveals the real purpose of the game – online gambling.

Because the app is a web view no actual code regarding the gambling aspect is present in the app, and the functionality is not revealed when Apple tests the app in other locations around the world. In addition, the app does not use Apple Pay, and users report that the actual gambling game is stacked very heavily against the players, with promises of bonuses not materialising.

Eleftheriou notes that the secret to the success of the game is that Apple users are more likely to install random apps from the web as they believe they are safe on Apple’s platform. Apple is however making promises it can not keep. In addition, Apple has been accused of profiting from apps that scam users, with some reluctance to address the issue, with basic features such as a report button not being present in the App Store.

Jungle Runner has now been removed from the Store, but the developers will soon be back, under a different name, with an app that is more or less the same.  Apple appears unwilling or unable to fix the issue, which raises questions regarding the purpose of their walled garden, which appears to be more about keeping users locked in than keeping bad actors out.

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