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Apple on iTunes fraud: Developer banned, users should check accounts

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
Apple on Tuesday publicly responded to recent reports of developer and account fraud, revealing it banned the developer in question from its App Store, and also suggested that customers review their iTunes account for unauthorized transactions.

Over the weekend, reports surfaced that some iTunes account holders were involved in an increasing number of fraud cases, some of which appeared to be orchestrated by developers who allegedly used the accounts to boost their sales ratings. In addition, some others were affected by a widespread hack of user accounts.

A wave of suspicious purchases appeared to boost a single developer named Thuat Nguyen, who took over 40 spots in the top 50 applications on the App Store's books category. Nguyen was the creator of a number of Japanese manga titles, and listed under the name "mycompany" with the website "Home.com."

On Tuesday, Apple told Engadget that Nguyen and his applications were removed from the App Store for violating the developer Program License Agreement. The official statement said that Nguyen was involved in "fraudulent purchase patterns."

"Developers do not receive any iTunes confidential customer data when an app is downloaded," the company said. "If your credit card or iTunes password is stolen and used on iTunes we recommend that you contact your financial institution and inquire about canceling the card and issuing a chargeback for any unauthorized transactions. We also recommendt hat you change your iTunes account password immediately. For more information on best practices for password security visit http://www.apple.com/support/itunes."
post #2 of 40
I think there's still the remaining question on how the apps got published in the first place - surely "mycompany" with website "Home.com" would've looked suspicious.
post #3 of 40
And whats the nature of hacked iTunes accounts?

I assume this doesnt mean someone actually hacking Apple and stealing peoples money. Does it simply mean they got your password by other means (probably viruses/spyware if youre on Windows, or automated guessing of overly-simple passwords) and then simply logged in as you, no hack needed?
post #4 of 40
I only download music from the iTunes store. Am I vulnerable and shoudl I change my password?
post #5 of 40
Good thing my password is in language that is almost extinct.
post #6 of 40
Apple should obviously know which iTunes accounts were used to fraudulently purchase these items. Surely Apple could and should be in contact with the account owners to notify them of the fraudulent activity charged to their account.
post #7 of 40
Apple needs to do more to protect its customers from crap like this. When there are apps like this, then consumers should be able to report it. Put a "Report this App" button somewhere on the page. I am SICK of buying crap apps with no way to get my money back or at least have the App removed from the store.
post #8 of 40
Especially baffling since they all slipped through Apple's rigorous approval process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbarriault View Post

I think there's still the remaining question on how the apps got published in the first place - surely "mycompany" with website "Home.com" would've looked suspicious.
post #9 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

And what’s the nature of “hacked” iTunes accounts?

I assume this doesn’t mean someone actually hacking Apple and stealing people’s money. Does it simply mean “they got your password” by other means (probably viruses/spyware if you’re on Windows, or automated guessing of overly-simple passwords) and then simply logged in as you, no hack needed?

I'm guessing the latter. Some folks have easy to remember passwords. I had a friend whose Apple ID was just her email address and her password was buymusic. no caps, no symbols, no numbers. That's probably the first thing I would try if I wanted to hack her account.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsa View Post

I only download music from the iTunes store. Am I vulnerable and shoudl I change my password?

It doesn't matter what you buy. If you are online you are vulnerable. You need to look at how you create passwords. Do you go for the minimum number of characters, do you mix in numbers, random caps, etc. Do you use dictionary words. Do you use things for your password or security question that someone could find out by looking up your twitter, facebook etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shivas Irons View Post

Apple should obviously know which iTunes accounts were used to fraudulently purchase these items. Surely Apple could and should be in contact with the account owners to notify them of the fraudulent activity charged to their account.

It's possible that some of the buys were legit, how will Apple know. So it's on the customer to tell them 'no I didn't buy this' and then go from there

Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

I am SICK of buying crap apps with no way to get my money back or at least have the App removed from the store.

The terms and conditions that you agreed to and re agree to with every itunes update (and a few times in between) say very clearly that there's no money back cause you don't like something. And short of an app that violates the developer terms and conditions, 'crap' is subjective.

If Apple starts making subjective decisions about the merits of apps they will get into more censorship issues than they already are. I don't see them wanting that
post #10 of 40
It's anyone's guess at this point, but I'll wager it is either users who have overly simplistic passwords or people who fell for a trojan, phishing scheme, keylogger, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Apple needs to do more to protect its customers from crap like this. When there are apps like this, then consumers should be able to report it. Put a "Report this App" button somewhere on the page. I am SICK of buying crap apps with no way to get my money back or at least have the App removed from the store.

So read the reviews. It isn't complicated.
You can also use the "Report a Problem" link.
The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
  Samuel Johnson
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The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
  Samuel Johnson
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post #11 of 40
Apple should be more pro-active here. Some of the suggestions above are good. The report "abuse" is a good idea -- from both users as well as developers.


Warn and ban spammers


I am surprised that only one developer so far has been banned. As noted in previous reports (outside of Apple Insider), this is not the first time that some developers have spammed the Apps Store. Here "spamming" is used to include Apps that piggy-back on legitimate Apps, either by direct copying or using "search terms" unique for a legitimate App.

It should be easy for Apple to develop an algorithm to spot spamming. This could be further supported by report of abuse and complaints from legitimate developers. Using an Apple developed algorithm to detect spamming and other malwares, as well as feedback from both users and developers, an Apple team dedicated to policing the

Developers must have a recourse for those copying their Apps. Here a precedence of submission (not just approval) could be use as the basis of originality. Developers could also complain of hijacking of terms specific for their Apps.

Developers with more than one App must have a legitimate website (not simply Facebook), contact information (including business address) and terms of use. All Apps from one developer must be reported in this official website. The official website must be included in the "Apps information". This will help both users and developers to detect and avoid spammers and make legitimate complaints.

Transparency is a good idea.

Apple must have a set of defined policies on what they consider spamming, as well as set procedure of warning suspected spammers and steps taken that would lead to banning guilty parties.

CGC
post #12 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Apple needs to do more to protect its customers from crap like this. When there are apps like this, then consumers should be able to report it. Put a "Report this App" button somewhere on the page. I am SICK of buying crap apps with no way to get my money back or at least have the App removed from the store.

what crap apps have you paid for and want a refund? could you provide a list? forgive my suspicion, but you almost sound like a troll.
post #13 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post

Good thing my password is in language that is almost extinct.

It won't help if you got keylogger.
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Marquiz d' Gabber von Gabberaarde

... and Windows Vista...
... fails on the Moon...
... 6x slower!
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post #14 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabberattack View Post

It won't help if you got keylogger.

ditto, and I suspect that people who got hacked accounts were on PC's and it was phoning home all their personal information
post #15 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


It's possible that some of the buys were legit, how will Apple know. So it's on the customer to tell them 'no I didn't buy this' and then go from there

They can check IP logs, mac addresses, failed login attempts prior to a successful login, and a bunch of other stuff that is relevant to a customer. It's not exactly an anonymous transaction.
post #16 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post

Good thing my password is in language that is almost extinct.

Come-on, English is still used by a lot of people outside of America.
post #17 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by pcworth@charter.net View Post

Come-on, English is still used by a lot of people outside of America.

post #18 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by mac_dog View Post

what crap apps have you paid for and want a refund? could you provide a list? forgive my suspicion, but you almost sound like a troll.

There are crumby apps on the App Store, many highly ranked, and if someone doesn't read reviews they're bound to buy a number of them (hence why I don't have much sympathy for people who won't put a moment of effort into reading before they buy). But it is also silly to pretend that those apps don't exist in the app store.

One thing to keep in perspective, though, is that the quality of apps is far above and beyond anything offered on any other phone platform. Android, especially, with its near free-for-all platform, is loaded with garbage apps and blatant copyright infringement (though it does also have some good apps in the mix). Apple's doing a great job overall.
The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
  Samuel Johnson
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The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
  Samuel Johnson
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post #19 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbarriault View Post

I think there's still the remaining question on how the apps got published in the first place - surely "mycompany" with website "Home.com" would've looked suspicious.

This has to be the number one question they should answer. With Apples draconian approval guidelines designed to prevent malicious code, porn, and free speech, it is hard to imagine how this slipped through.

As much as I love what the iTunes store offers, it is an antiquated system with limited searching capabilities that favor only those Apps with existing popularity, or those that hack through. The thing that irks me most is that although I can search by release date, it will not find newly updated Apps. This means that should a developer convert their app to Universal, it will not show up as a new release and I might not find it, unless I know what it is called. We need the ability to sort by release date, update date, popularity, rating, and a boolean combination of those tied to type of App. When you are used to performing sophisticated searches, iTunes is incredibly limiting.
post #20 of 40
My iTunes is so whacked out. I think it has to do with all the DRM stuff and which computers are authorized and syncing the iPhone with only one. When I log into my account in the iTunes application from work on my Mac, it only shows a small fraction of my purchases for some reason and no apps that I have purchased through the iPhone directly which were synced back to my MBP.

Anyway checking my iTunes account purchase history isn't very reassuring since most of the stuff that should be there isn't.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #21 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by mac_dog View Post

what crap apps have you paid for and want a refund? could you provide a list? forgive my suspicion, but you are a troll.

fixed
post #22 of 40
Let us take this issue with some degree of proportion. There are now supposedly more than 150 million iTunes customers.

How many have been hacked? 100? 1,000? 10,000? 100,000? Note that all these numbers are miniscule, in terms of the total userbase. But, in the internet age, an irate group of even a hundred or a thousand could make a "lot of noise" that may go viral and take a life of its own. The reason could be very legitimate, but it is not surprising that it may not be.

In the internet age, repetition sometimes becomes accepted as fact.

As noted by others, it is true that hacking of computers and stealing of user ID and password could lead to the problem. It would be interesting to find out in a more anonymous way what sort of computers were used by those whose ID and password have become victims.

But, is it all due to users lack of discretion in password creation and security of their specific? There were a number of instances when actual supermarkets or commercial company (even banks) databases have been compromised. Here, it was not due to the consumers' fault, but the company.

Is Apple completely safe from such similar hacking? The answer is NO.

I have been a victim of identity theft myself. I did not even lose my credit cards. I even took precautions so that some of my accounts were used for specific purposes only. It was this precaution that allowed one of the credit card companies to detect that my one of my cards was used fraudulently. They called me immediately in a matter of days, after my account with them has been used in "trial transactions" in two different states, different from my official residence. Apparently, because this specific company is part of the largest investing institution in the US (if not the world) dealing with trillions of dollars of transaction, they have specific programs that were employed to detect fraudulent financial transactions. Or, so the customer service who called explained.

Should Apple have such a systemt to detect fraud more proactively? Considering that the Apple iTunes could be considered one of the larger "credit card" institutions, it should have such security precautions.

The other card, I only found out after I received the monthly statement -- my credit limit has been exceeded which meant certain transactions should not have gone through. The bottom line is that this company also has a mechanism to review potential fraud. I was reimbursed eventually.

I use a very small company for my domain registration and annual renewal. And yet, even a single transaction is accompanied by a confirming verification number and follow-up email to ensure that it was a legitimate financial transaction or information change.

Similarly, all my payments online is secured with a verification number and a confirming email. If I am not mistaken, other large internet companies that do business online -- eBay, Amazon, etc. -- have similar mechanism to legitimize the transaction, protect the consumer and provide a recourse for potential redress in case of fraud.

If Apple does not have similar mechanisms in place, it should. If true, as reported here, that Apple lets its iTunes consumer have redress only through their financial institutions, this is not good enough.

After all, the credit card company is not really a direct party that allowed a hacker -- using the iTunes transaction mechanism -- to allow such fraudulent transaction to occur.

In the long run, this attitude may come back to haunt Apple, as an internet commerce company, if it does not take more precaution to protect its iTunes consumers more vigorously.

CGC
post #23 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Apple needs to do more to protect its customers from crap like this. When there are apps like this, then consumers should be able to report it. Put a "Report this App" button somewhere on the page. I am SICK of buying crap apps with no way to get my money back or at least have the App removed from the store.

You can get your money back, you just have to ask. I have done, on occasion.
post #24 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by mac_dog View Post

what crap apps have you paid for and want a refund? could you provide a list? forgive my suspicion, but you almost sound like a troll.

I have purchased a few that I just deleted they were so useless. At .99 or 1.99 it isn't worth my time trying to get a refund. It is more productive to go on the App store and give the app an honest review so that others may avoid it.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #25 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I have purchased a few that I just deleted they were so useless. At .99 or 1.99 it isn't worth my time trying to get a refund. It is more productive to go on the App store and give the app an honest review so that others may avoid it.

If it's not worth your time to get a refund, then why are you even wasting your time bitching and moaning on here then?
post #26 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by tawilson View Post

If it's not worth your time to get a refund, then why are you even wasting your time bitching and moaning on here then?

Did you really consider my post bitching and moaning?

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #27 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Did you really consider my post bitching and moaning?

No, not really. Just moaning

I also seem to have wrongly attributed you as original individual complaining about lack of refund option, my bad.
post #28 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post

Good thing my password is in language that is almost extinct.

English?
post #29 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by cgc0202 View Post

Let us take this issue with some degree of proportion. There are now supposedly more than 150 million iTunes customers.

How many have been hacked? 100? 1,000? 10,000? 100,000? Note that all these numbers are miniscule, in terms of the total userbase. But, in the internet age, an irate group of even a hundred or a thousand could make a "lot of noise" that may go viral and take a life of its own. The reason could be very legitimate, but it is not surprising that it may not be.

In the internet age, repetition sometimes becomes accepted as fact.

As noted by others, it is true that hacking of computers and stealing of user ID and password could lead to the problem. It would be interesting to find out in a more anonymous way what sort of computers were used by those whose ID and password have become victims.

But, is it all due to users lack of discretion in password creation and security of their specific? There were a number of instances when actual supermarkets or commercial company (even banks) databases have been compromised. Here, it was not due to the consumers' fault, but the company.

Is Apple completely safe from such similar hacking? The answer is NO.

I have been a victim of identity theft myself. I did not even lose my credit cards. I even took precautions so that some of my accounts were used for specific purposes only. It was this precaution that allowed one of the credit card companies to detect that my one of my cards was used fraudulently. They called me immediately in a matter of days, after my account with them has been used in "trial transactions" in two different states, different from my official residence. Apparently, because this specific company is part of the largest investing institution in the US (if not the world) dealing with trillions of dollars of transaction, they have specific programs that were employed to detect fraudulent financial transactions. Or, so the customer service who called explained.

Should Apple have such a systemt to detect fraud more proactively? Considering that the Apple iTunes could be considered one of the larger "credit card" institutions, it should have such security precautions.

The other card, I only found out after I received the monthly statement -- my credit limit has been exceeded which meant certain transactions should not have gone through. The bottom line is that this company also has a mechanism to review potential fraud. I was reimbursed eventually.

I use a very small company for my domain registration and annual renewal. And yet, even a single transaction is accompanied by a confirming verification number and follow-up email to ensure that it was a legitimate financial transaction or information change.

Similarly, all my payments online is secured with a verification number and a confirming email. If I am not mistaken, other large internet companies that do business online -- eBay, Amazon, etc. -- have similar mechanism to legitimize the transaction, protect the consumer and provide a recourse for potential redress in case of fraud.

If Apple does not have similar mechanisms in place, it should. If true, as reported here, that Apple lets its iTunes consumer have redress only through their financial institutions, this is not good enough.

After all, the credit card company is not really a direct party that allowed a hacker -- using the iTunes transaction mechanism -- to allow such fraudulent transaction to occur.

In the long run, this attitude may come back to haunt Apple, as an internet commerce company, if it does not take more precaution to protect its iTunes consumers more vigorously.

CGC

Apple opened pandora's box when it spent years taunting the insecurity of Windows and touted itself as the untouchable OS. They've since learned to be a little quieter about the security as it's been shown that users are too much of a factor in how secure something is and no company is safe from this.

I only hope Apple takes these bashings as an incentive to invest a lot of that 40bill they got lying around in a serious security task force. They need to be proactive while they still can, cause soon that window will close and they'll be stuck in the same rut as Microsoft.
post #30 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamIIGS View Post

fixed

You're pathetic. Fixed.
post #31 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post

Good thing my password is in language that is almost extinct.

Are you referring to proper English?
post #32 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2oh1 View Post

Are you referring to proper English?

Quite right! American globalisation meant proper English's English is at threat. My iPad OS dictionary still suggests American spelling, what the...
post #33 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by tawilson View Post

If it's not worth your time to get a refund, then why are you even wasting your time bitching and moaning on here then?

Maybe they actually enjoy participating in the forum?
Don't be a jerk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hezetation View Post

Apple opened pandora's box when it spent years taunting the insecurity of Windows and touted itself as the untouchable OS. They've since learned to be a little quieter about the security as it's been shown that users are too much of a factor in how secure something is and no company is safe from this.

I only hope Apple takes these bashings as an incentive to invest a lot of that 40bill they got lying around in a serious security task force. They need to be proactive while they still can, cause soon that window will close and they'll be stuck in the same rut as Microsoft.

Before hopping up onto the soap box with declarations it is always a good idea to gain an understanding of the problem at hand. If Apple accounts had actually been hacked without a password this would have truly been serious—and I think we would have seen much more taking place than what happened. On the flip-side, there's only so much Apple can do about people giving away their passwords to malware or phishing scams. The only argument that could be made against Apple here is if those passwords were simply guessed, which is something Apple can and should do something about by requiring stronger passwords and possibly checking for a lack of security features related to brute force/dictionary attacks; whatever.

If those passwords were retrieved through the likes of trojans and keyloggers, though, it shouldn't take people much imagination to figure out exactly what platform that took place on.
The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
  Samuel Johnson
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The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
  Samuel Johnson
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post #34 of 40
Guys check you account!

My account was hacked but I found out this morning by logging into my bank account, checking my balance.

Along w/ $43 charge to I-tunes I also had charges for Yahoo Wallet, Playstation Network & MeMobile.
post #35 of 40
If you think that, go take a look at the Android Market at least the App store gives pricing in your local currency, Android Market it's in £, $, and who knows what else.

You'd think Google with their search prowess could do better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pcworth@charter.net View Post

This has to be the number one question they should answer. With Apples draconian approval guidelines designed to prevent malicious code, porn, and free speech, it is hard to imagine how this slipped through.

As much as I love what the iTunes store offers, it is an antiquated system with limited searching capabilities that favor only those Apps with existing popularity, or those that hack through. The thing that irks me most is that although I can search by release date, it will not find newly updated Apps. This means that should a developer convert their app to Universal, it will not show up as a new release and I might not find it, unless I know what it is called. We need the ability to sort by release date, update date, popularity, rating, and a boolean combination of those tied to type of App. When you are used to performing sophisticated searches, iTunes is incredibly limiting.
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post #36 of 40
Most Major credit card issuers have what they call Vertual Numbers.
In most cases you create a number for just about every transaction.
I find this one of the safest way to purchase online.
Ofcourse, if you shop a lot it could be tiresome. But, this is not the racetrack
post #37 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by hezetation View Post

Apple opened pandora's box when it spent years taunting the insecurity of Windows and touted itself as the untouchable OS. They've since learned to be a little quieter about the security as it's been shown that users are too much of a factor in how secure something is and no company is safe from this.

I only hope Apple takes these bashings as an incentive to invest a lot of that 40bill they got lying around in a serious security task force. They need to be proactive while they still can, cause soon that window will close and they'll be stuck in the same rut as Microsoft.

For the record, I was not bashing Apple. And most of the resposes did not do either. One can criticize and make suggestions for the better. And Apple should make reforms.

There is no comparison between Microsoft OS and other products and those of Apple. In an article I read a few months back, I read someone from Microsoft suggesting that security flaws of Microsoft products is a way of life. They had the gaul to even suggest that there should be a tax levied on everyone to take care of the cost needed to deal with these inherent security flaws of Windows OS and other MS products. That is an attitude that should not be condoned.

From what I read, Apple OS X and thus also the iOS, are based on UNIX. In this sense, the foundation of the OS are based on "open source" technology so that the security flaws can be scrunitized by a vast community loyal to the UNIX. Similarly, Apple also contributed many of its scripts as bases of "open source" standards and readily use some "open source" standards -- even if the "fine tuning" or forked to become Apple software may not be completely "open source", for obvious competitive reasons.

In contrast, the the scripts of the Windows OS, as well as a number of MS products are proprietary. In fact, Microsoft, has deliberately subverted accepted internet "standards" in an attempt to maintain its monopoly. e.g., the Internet Explorer browser, and continue to do so in its ongoing projects.

In the past, this strategy worked to Microsoft's advantage because of its virtual monopoly, in a number of areas. This approached however may have come back to haunt and perhaps doom Microsoft in the mobile computing era. Which company would willingly use a proprietary product with licensing cost when there are open source alternatives, like the Android -- which is not only free but also can be forked to suit the needs of any company. Further, forking does not prevent the user of the "open source" to go back and borrow from other improvements on the "open source" Android.

Because of this, I predict that Microsoft proprietary mobile computing OS will likely become irrelevant in the not too distant future, as more open source mobile computing OS become more mature. Why would a company pay Microsoft when it could pocket the cost of the licensing fee, for using MS mobiel computing OS? This otherwise exta cost is specially critical in cut throat competition among all users of "open source".

,Going back to security, Apple has also taken precautions to avoid autimated execution of certain scripts that may be accidentally introduced to a Mac. Others have also discussed other precautions inherent in the Apple OS X that make it less vurlnerable.

If my memory does not fail me, Apple has also hired more recently some staff who are well-versed in security issues.

Having said these, Apple's OS and other scripts are not entirely immune from hacking. And Apple should do more, as already suggsted by others in numerous sites.

CGC
post #38 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by cgc0202 View Post

I am surprised that only one developer so far has been banned.

While banning is rare, apps get pulled all the time, sometimes just for being too good:
http://apple.slashdot.org/story/10/0...ore-Developers

Quote:
Developers must have a recourse for those copying their Apps.

Apparently that recourse is to copy others:
http://www.uquery.com/search?q=fart
"fart" = 726 results
post #39 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by cgc0202 View Post

Similarly, all my payments online is secured with a verification number and a confirming email. If I am not mistaken, other large internet companies that do business online -- eBay, Amazon, etc. -- have similar mechanism to legitimize the transaction, protect the consumer and provide a recourse for potential redress in case of fraud.

If Apple does not have similar mechanisms in place, it should. If true, as reported here, that Apple lets its iTunes consumer have redress only through their financial institutions, this is not good enough.

I've posted something similar in another thread. The fact is, Apple is weak on security.

Apple do the absolute minimum they are required to and I doubt they will change anything because each barrier they erect to improve security is a barrier between your money and their bank account...
post #40 of 40
I like your discussion.Thank you very much.
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