Hackers used Apple tech to put malicious apps on iPhones

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Pirates reportedly use Apple certs to release hacked apps on iPhone

One possible solution is for Apple to require two-factor authentication to log into all developer accounts.

Some of the most popular iOS apps are being pirated using Apple's very own developer program.

The trick is to use enterprise developer certificates, and these pirate operations are providing modified versions of popular apps to consumers.

Security researchers have long warned that enterprise developer certificates were a weak link in Apple's security.

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"Developers that abuse our enterprise certificates are in violation of the Apple Developer Enterprise Program Agreement and will have their certificates terminated, and if appropriate, they will be removed from our Developer Program completely". That said, while Google would not allow pirated content to proliferate in the Play Store, sideloading apps is easily possible.

These distributors are able to provide full versions of legitimate apps that are stripped of their revenue source, such as in-app ads.

Apple could be facing major monetary loss due to activity of software pirates who have hijacked the required technology to distribute apps like Angry Birds, Pokemon Go, Minecraft and Spotify. Apps available to sideload from websites included Swag, PPAV, Banana Video, iPorn (iP), Pear, Poshow and AVBobo, RD Poker and RiverPoke, all of which violated Apple's content policies.

Users who get hold of modified versions of the apps, which enables them to bypass Apple Store and having to pay for the products.

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By doing so, the pirate app distributors are violating the rules of Apple's developer programs, which only allow apps to be distributed to the general public through the App Store. Apple's only recourse is to continue hunting down and revoking the certificates that are being misused, while also tightening up its Developer Enterprise program in the process, both in terms of the requirements for admission and the auditing of companies participating in the program.

Software pirates can make a profit by offering a membership that costs $13 or more a month for access to "VIP" versions of the apps, which are said to be more secure than the free versions.

Its unclear exactly how much revenue these pirated software services have generated or exactly how much this has affected the developers behind the legitimate versions of the hacked apps.

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