Apple Removes Scam App That Led to Hijacked Facebook Ad Accounts

Apple has removed an app that it was unknowingly hosting on the App Store that scammed Facebook advertisers and led hackers to use advertisers' ad budgets to run possibly malicious ads on Facebook's platforms, Business Insider reports.

iOS App Store General Feature Dock 2
The app previously ranked highly on the ‌App Store‌ when searching for "Facebook ads manager," the app used by advertisers to control their presence and ads they're running on the Facebook platform. The app presented itself as the legitimate ads manager for Facebook but was actually a backdoor that let hackers gain access to an account. One employee of an ad agency told Insider they were locked out of their account within just 10 minutes of downloading and logging into the app from Apple's ‌App Store‌.

Apple said that the app was originally submitted to the ‌App Store‌ as a simple document manager with no ties or functionality to the Facebook platform. Apple claimed in a statement to Insider that the app turned malicious after it was approved for the company's platform. Facebook flagged the app to Apple in mid-July, but only after Insider's request for comment to the Cupertino tech giant was the app removed from the platform.

Apple proudly states that the ‌App Store‌ is "a safe and trusted place to discover and download apps," with apps being held to the "highest standards for privacy, security, and content." Apple screens all apps before they're presented for download on the ‌App Store‌. According to the company, over 250,000 apps were rejected for the ‌App Store‌ last year for violating privacy guidelines, with an even larger 1 million apps rejected for possibly harmful and unsafe content.

Despite Apple's efforts, scam apps have remained a problem for the platform. A study last year found that 2% of the top 1000 top paid apps on the ‌App Store‌ at the time were scam apps, with those apps reportedly earning over $1 million in revenue. In a separate instance, a fake bitcoin app scammed its way to gain over $610,000 after being on Apple's platform.

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Top Rated Comments

goaliemn Avatar
24 months ago
You can get Malware and hacked even without side loading. Great job.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Piplodocus Avatar
24 months ago
If I'm gonna load an app from the internet I'm always sure be very careful to work out where it came from and how trustworthy the developer is. If I get it from the App Store I'd presume Apple have done that for me.

So good work again Apple for saying it's far too unsafe to let people load whatever apps you like on your iPhone/iPad, and justifying the app store as the only safe way to allow them, while hosting scams again and seemingly after being flagged, doing nothing about it until the media are going to shame you. ??‍♂️
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hagar Avatar
24 months ago
We should be mad at the scammers, not Apple. It’s like being mad at the police because people still get murdered.

I rather have a store where 1.25M scam apps are being removed annually than no safeguards at all.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
4743913 Avatar
24 months ago
"But don't worry, we are extra careful in keeping those evil emulators out of the AppStore" -Apple
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dan From Canada Avatar
24 months ago
And this is from Apples famously safed app store?
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Spaceboi Scaphandre Avatar
24 months ago

You can get Malware and hacked even without side loading. Great job.
THIS IS WHAT I KEEP TELLING PEOPLE!

Everything Apple says about sideloading is a lie to keep total control, stamping out competition, and maximize profits so there's absolutely zero reason to not have an optional sideloading toggle for those who want it.



Edit: And to those who keep disliking this post, see for yourself: Scam apps have figured out how to trick the App Store review team and it's getting worse. You are not immune to bad actors with the absence of sideloading like you think you are https://9to5mac.com/2022/08/04/fraudulent-chinese-apps-mac-app-store/
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)