Reports of 'App Store Hacked' Greatly Exaggerated

180136 ranks 500

Earlier today a report on TheNextWeb claimed that the App Store had been hacked and that a rogue developer had gamed the system by artificially driving sales to their eBooks. The rise in ranks were noted by competing developers who thought the rise strange given that the books all represented poorly coded Vietnamese-based books.

A couple of reviews left on one of the books revealed that at least two customers had their iTunes accounts compromised to purchase the books. This led to theories that a widespread attack specifically tied to this developer could be the cause of the rise in ranks. Which then led to a cascade of headlines suggesting that everyone's iTunes account was suddenly vulnerable to a coordinated attack. While we do believe that this developer had been trying to game the iTunes ranking system, it's hard to believe that their efforts affected more than a few hundred accounts worldwide.

The Book category in which we found these apps (note, they've been pulled from the App Store) is one of the lowest trafficked categories in the App Store. Based on sales reports we've received from developers, the number of daily sales required to hold a book in the #10-#50 rank seems to range from 50-250 sales a day. That means that even if every sale was based on a compromised account (unlikely), the actual number of accounts involved are minuscule compared to the 100 million active iTunes accounts.

Now, on a separate note, the issue of hacked or compromised iTunes accounts is a major issue, and one not to be dismissed. However, this issue has been ongoing for years and we're not convinced there has been a major spike in activity. iTunes accounts are easy targets since they are so common. In our forums we have had a running thread on the topic since January 2008. A few reports appear every few months. There do seem to be a higher number of reports arising the past day or two of other iTunes accounts being hacked. It's certainly possible there has been an acute rise in the past few days, but the added press coverage will certainly attract more stories. Meanwhile, a blog post from 2009 similarly attracted a number of "me too" reports. The cause of the iTunes accounts to be compromised are almost certainly due to phishing attempts and the like rather than any insecurity on Apple's iTunes, itself.

It's still a good idea to make sure your accounts are safe, and especially important to make sure you have good (and different) passwords on all your sensitive accounts. Common mistakes include easy to guess passwords and shared passwords across multiple accounts.

Top Rated Comments

hypoh Avatar
143 months ago
Some of you guys sure are cynical.

My iTunes account was compromised...

My password is not dictionary-list crackable. I'm on a Mac, not PC. I know a phishing attempt when I see one. No, there is no keylogger on my Mac. No, a friend did not use my computer to buy $50 worth of iTunes apps at 4am in the morning.

I'm not perfect, and I'm not saying iTunes was "hacked." Just adding my story to the mix.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

16 inch macbook pro m2 render

When Can We Expect the Redesigned MacBook Pros Now?

Wednesday June 16, 2021 7:11 am PDT by
With no sign of redesigned MacBook Pro models at this year's WWDC, when can customers expect the much-anticipated new models to launch? A number of reports, including investor notes from Morgan Stanley and Wedbush analysts, claimed that new MacBook Pro models would be coming during this year's WWDC. This did not happen, much to the disappointment of MacBook Pro fans, who have been...
YouTube Picture in Picture Feature

YouTube Says iOS Picture-in-Picture Coming to All US Users

Friday June 18, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
After a long wait, YouTube for iOS is officially gaining picture-in-picture support, allowing all users, non-premium and premium subscribers, to close the YouTube app and continue watching their video in a small pop-up window. In a statement to MacRumors, YouTube says that picture-in-picture is currently rolling out to all premium subscribers on iOS and that a larger rollout to all US iOS...
2021 back t0 school

Apple Launches 2021 Back to School Promotion: Free AirPods With Eligible Mac or iPad Purchase

Thursday June 17, 2021 4:56 am PDT by
Apple today launched its seasonal back-to-school sale for the upcoming school year in the United States and Canada, offering students free AirPods alongside purchases of select Macs and iPad models. Similar to last year's promotion, this year's offer includes free AirPods alongside the purchase of a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, the new 24-inch iMac, the Mac Pro, Mac mini, and the new M1-powered ...
applecare lower prices

Apple Lowers Prices of AppleCare+ Plans for M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro

Thursday June 17, 2021 7:33 am PDT by
Apple today lowered the prices of AppleCare+ plans for MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro models equipped with the M1 chip. Coverage offered by the plans, as well as accidental damage fees, appear to remain unchanged. In the United States, AppleCare+ for the MacBook Air now costs $199, down from $249. The new price applies to both M1 and Intel-based MacBook Air models, although Apple no...
maxresdefault

Video: 20 Annoyances Apple Fixed in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey

Friday June 18, 2021 11:36 am PDT by
With iOS 15 and macOS Monterey, Apple is adding several quality of life improvements, which are designed to address some of the complaints that people have had with these operating systems for years now. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. In our latest YouTube video, we're highlighting some of our favorite "fix" features that address long-running problems in iOS and...
Top Stories 63 Feature

Top Stories: Beats Studio Buds Announced, Apple Watch Series 7 Rumors, and More

Saturday June 19, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
The Apple news cycle started to move beyond WWDC this week, but that doesn't mean there still wasn't a lot to talk about, led by the official debut of the much-leaked Beats Studio Buds that might give us a hint of what to expect for the second-generation AirPods Pro. With no hardware announcements at WWDC, we also took a look at when we might finally see the long-rumored redesigned MacBook...
m1 v intel thumb

Intel Processor Market Share May Fall to New Low Next Year Due to Apple Silicon

Friday June 18, 2021 2:06 am PDT by
Intel may see its market share fall to a new low next year, in large part thanks to Apple's decision to move away from using Intel processors in its Mac computers and instead use Apple silicon. Apple announced last year that it would embark on a two-year-long journey to transition all of its Mac computers, both desktops, and laptops, to use its own in-house processors. Apple is expected to...
space gray magic accessories trio

Apple Stops Selling Magic Accessories in Space Gray

Friday June 18, 2021 9:16 am PDT by
Apple this week stopped selling its Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad, Magic Mouse 2, and Magic Trackpad 2 accessories for the Mac in a Space Gray color, around three months after discontinuing the iMac Pro, which also came in Space Gray. Last month, Apple listed the Space Gray accessories as available while supplies last, and the company has now removed the product pages from its website...
maxresdefault

Apple CEO Tim Cook: Sideloading Apps Would 'Destroy the Security' of the iPhone

Wednesday June 16, 2021 10:49 am PDT by
Apple CEO Tim Cook this morning participated in a virtual interview at the VivaTech conference, which is described as Europe's biggest startup and tech event. Cook was interviewed by Guillaume Lacroix, CEO and founder of Brut, a media company that creates short-form video content. Much of the discussion centered on privacy, as it often does in interviews that Cook participates in. He...
3nm apple silicon feature

Apple Supplier TSMC Readies 3nm Chip Production for Second Half of 2022

Friday June 18, 2021 6:59 am PDT by
Apple supplier TSMC is preparing to produce 3nm chips in the second half of 2022, and in the coming months, the supplier will begin production of 4nm chips, according to a new report from DigiTimes. Apple had previously booked the initial capacity of TSMC's 4nm chip production for future Macs and more recently ordered TSMC to begin production of the A15 chip for the upcoming iPhone 13,...