Feeds

Backdoor in top iPhone games stole user data, suit claims

Storm8's iSpy

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

A maker of some of the most popular games for the iPhone has been surreptitiously collecting users' cell numbers without their permission, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The complaint claims best-selling games made by Storm8 contained secret code that bypassed safeguards built into the iPhone to prevent the unauthorized snooping of user information. The Redwood City, California, company, which claims its games have been downloaded more than 20 million times, has no need to collect the numbers.

"Nonetheless, Storm8 makes use of the 'backdoor' method to access, collect, and transmit the wireless phone numbers of the iPhones on which its games are installed," states the complaint, which was filed in US District Court in Northern California. "Storm8 does so or has done so in all of its games."

Messages left for Storm8 representatives weren't returned.

The complaint, filed on behalf of iPhone owner and gamer Michael Turner of Lynnwood, Washington, seeks class action status so other users of Storm8 games can also join. It claims that as of Monday, five of the companies games ranked in the top 50 free apps on Apple's App Store, and seven of them ranked in the top 100. Titles include World War, iMobsters, Racing Live, Vampires Live, Kingdoms Live, Zombies Live, and Rockstars Live.

The complaint claims Storm8 has violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and Calfornia's computer crime law, among other statutes.

It's not the first time Storm8 has been accused of spying on its users. In August, SFGate.com writer Yobi Benjamin analyzed precisely what information his iPhone was sending to Storm8 and dropped it into this column.

"I would not want just anyone to have my personal phone number," he wrote. "Worst of all, the information is transmitted unencrypted in plain text."

Other sites have made similar claims about Storm8 titles. In addition to taking the game maker to task, some critics have also blamed Apple for allowing the software to be sold in its heavily controlled App Store. (Storm8 titles such as iMobster continue to be available there.)

Storm8 responded by acknowledging it had been collected user phone numbers and blamed the situation on "a bug that has been fixed."

Attorneys for the plaintiff aren't buying that.

"Storm8's characterizations of its practice of harvesting phone numbers as a 'bug' and an 'oversight' are false," they wrote. "Storm8 could not have accidentally harvested its users' phone numbers - it used very specific and specialized software code to do so." ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Will BlackBerry make a comeback with its SQUARE smartphones?
Plus PC PIMs from company formerly known as RIM
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass
Operator says it will safeguard 359 jobs, plans lick of paint
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.