Skip to main content

Serious Warning Issued For Millions Of Apple iPhone Users

While Apple continues to report record profits, owners of the company’s 1.65 billion active iPhones and iPads are facing increasing financial risk using the Apple App Store. And now, following shock revelation after revelation after revelation after revelation after revelation about iOS scams with profits “measured in billions”, perhaps the most blatant manipulation of iPhone and iPad owners to date has been discovered.

In his latest high profile exposé of App Store fleeceware (which includes casinos hidden inside children’s games and a ‘factory’ of iOS scam apps), developer Kosta Eleftheriou has revealed how the App Store is allowing real users to be manipulated into propagating scams which impact every iPhone and iPad owner.

The Scam

The scam is “EXTREMELY easy for any developer to do” and highly effective: when downloaded, the App Store enables scam apps to forcibly demand a high app rating in order to use them. Low ratings cannot be input, there’s no option to cancel and only submitting a high score will allow you to continue.


“We already knew scammers buy fake ratings & reviews by the thousands,” explains Eleftheriou (he is right), “But when the fake ratings come from 100% real accounts in this way, scammers can scale their activities at no cost while Apple ignores users who complain - and even takes a cut of the revenue!”

The Ongoing Danger

Apple is clearly following Eleftheriou’s discoveries, it pulled the first app the developer found within 24 hours (which had been downloaded more than 15 million times with “$MILLIONS in revenue”), but Eleftheriou simply found more. And, the more developers dug into the problem, the deeper it got.

First, Eleftheriou found the scam has been going on for at least eight months before popular developer Guilherme Rambo unearthed how: it is based on unfixed flaws within Apple’s own code. Consequently, Apple suddenly deciding to play Whack-a-mole on rogue apps isn’t going to cut it.





The Wider Problem


Commenting on the problem, former Apple marketing director Michael Gartenberg exclaimed “How did this one slip through?” But last month court documents made it clear.

In legal documents released as part of the ongoing Epic Vs Apple trial, Eric Friedman, head of the company’s Fraud Engineering Algorithms and Risk (‘FEAR’ unit) compared App Store security to “bringing a plastic butter knife to a gunfight” saying the App Store review process is “more like the pretty lady who greets you… at the Hawaiian airport than the drug-sniffing dog”

Which brings us to Eleftheriou’s wider point:

“This puts into question the integrity of the entire App Store. My advice to users? Consider all App Store ratings compromised. Apple will eventually fix this problem on iOS, but that won’t remove all the fake ratings that have been submitted already. I believe that nothing short of a total App Store reset can fix the problem of millions of fake ratings & reviews that have accumulated over the years.”

And such a reset would fundamentally damage all honest app makers just trying to make a living. It’s a Catch-22 situation.

Eleftheriou does have skin in the game. The developer is currently suing Apple after his own iOS app FlickType was mimicked by scammers and Eleftheriou says he was unable to get Apple to act. Regardless, his discoveries are making users sit up and take notice. But the big question is whether Apple itself - which trades heavily on its superior security to Android - will take notice and make fundamental changes. If not, iPhone and iPad owners will have a decision to make.



In the meantime, I would advise everyone to go to Settings > App Store > In-App Ratings & Reviews and disable it. This will stop scam apps from forcing you to rate them. This setting is enabled by default but at least it will stop you contributing to the problem. 

“If you do decide to download any app from the App Store, don't trust the ratings or reviews,” Eleftheriou told me. “Ask friends for a recommendation, and make sure you know how to cancel a subscription before you (accidentally) start one!". 

 I have contacted Apple and will update this article when/if I receive a response.

Popular posts from this blog

6 things Apple stole from Android at WWDC— and one that Google should steal

Every year, Apple and Google trade ideas for their newest versions of iOS and Android, respectively. But this year, during Apple's WWDC 2021, it seems like Apple purloined more than a few ideas that Google's integrated into Android over the last few years. Millions of iOS users won't get their hands on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 until later this year, so until then, we don't know until then how the new features will fare in the real world. For now, here's a tongue-in-cheek look at six features Apple, um, borrowed from Android with its latest software releases. Jump to: iPad widgets and app drawer Live Text Apple Maps AR navigation iOS notifications New Siri capabilities Apple Photos Bonus: What Google needs to steal iPad widgets and app drawer iPad OS 15 introduced two big new updates for the iPad home screen today: widgets and the App Library. If you think this sounds awfully familiar, there's a good reason for that. 2020's iOS 14 introduced both

How to watch England vs New Zealand: Live stream 2nd Test series cricket on

With the first Test ending in a draw, the series is on a knife edge at Edgbaston, as Joe Root's side look to put off the field controversies to one side and claim a much needed win against the Kiwis. Don't miss a single ball of the 2nd Test with our England vs New Zealand live stream guide below. The series has been somewhat overshadowed by the emergence of offensive historic tweets posted by Ollie Robinson who made his debut in the opening Test but has since been suspended. With the controversy still brewing amid interventions from politicians and accusations leveled at other members of the team, Root has a battle on his hands to keep his side focused on the game ahead. One positive for Root coming into the game is that they'll be playing in front of a near capacity crowd at Egbaston, with the overwhelming majority of the expected 18,000 spectators set to be cheering on the home side. The tourists have been delivered a huge blow coming intot his final match, with s

Best Roku Stick deals May 2021: $30 off Roku Ultra, Streambar and more

Transforming nearly any TV into a smart TV is affordable and easy with a Roku streaming stick. These tiny devices plug into your TV's HDMI port to unlock access to a world of streaming services, live TV channels, and other apps that will never leave you without entertainment. While prices are rather comparable to its main competition, the Amazon Fire TV Stick , Roku's devices have a few interesting features you won't find on a Fire stick. Roku Ultra - HD/4K/HDR/Dolby Vision with Dolby Atmos | $31 off at Amazon The Roku Ultra is the fastest, most powerful Roku streaming device so far, and it's even compatible with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos for a more cinematic experience. It has a better wireless range than other models as well. Today's deal saves you over $30 off its regular price. $69 at Amazon Once you've plugged in your new Roku streaming device, you can download the Roku app and use it as a remote or even plug headphones into your phone and listen to

EU calls out Google, Amazon, & Apple for 'unfair competition' in IoT market

The report blames the lack of interoperability in the consumer IoT sector on the prevalence of proprietary technology and lack of common standards. What you need to know The European Commission has published the preliminary results of its inquiry into the consumer Internet of Things (IoT) sector. The report has identified a few potential concerns, including prevalence of proprietary technology and accumulation of large amounts of data by "providers of smart device operating systems." The European Commission is expected to publish its final report in the first half of 2022. The European Commission today shared the initial findings of its consumer Internet of Things (IoT) sector inquiry. The inquiry was launched in July last year as part of its digital strategy. Along with confirming the rapid growth of the Internet of Things market, the report highlights a few potential concerns with regards to the "current functioning of consumer IoT markets, as well as to th