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Consumer Affairs Victoria says App Store contains malware

Consumer advisory on hacked iTunes accounts may go a little too far

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Consumer Affairs Victoria has claimed Apple's App Store houses "counterfeit or 'cloned' apps" that "look like real apps but don't have the same kind of security as those made by established software programmers" and "can expose personal data to malware or predatory, virus-like software which can be used to steal personal information."

The agency makes that claim in a consumer advisory to Apple customers, urging them to change their passwords given increasing levels of ID fraud in the app store. Such incidents see criminals obtain users passwords, then run up large bills on iTunes and in the App Store.

Consumer Affairs Victoria has flagged its concern about such incidents of fraud following queries from irate customers whose accounts have been compromised, resulting in large bills for content and apps. The agency says it is aware that criminals are selling Apple IDs for as little as AUD$33, and that such sales are the source of the fraud. It therefore recommends, Apple customers change their passwords frequently, and steer clear of apps with few reviews. It also quotes Apple as saying customers should contact their financial institution to sort things out, seeing as the fraudulent purchases land on punters' credit cards.

The consumer advocate then makes the claim that predatory software lurks in the App Store, a statement that is at odds with Apple's assurances of a tough vetting process which excludes apps that send personal data to murky destinations.

We've therefore asked Consumer Affairs Victoria just what it means by "counterfeit or 'cloned' apps". A spokesperson has already told she feels the passage about counterfeit apps may not be particularly well-written. We'll let you know once she clarifies if the passage needs further clarification. ®

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