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Consumer Affairs Victoria drops App Store malware claim

Chatting to Apple to clarify things, so page comes down for now

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Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) has taken down a page on which it alleged Apple's App Store contains "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.”

The decision comes after The Register yesterday pointed out to CAV that the claim was rather hard to sustain, given Apple's famously-stringent app-vetting process. We also asked Apple what it thought of the claim.

At 11:00 AM Thursday, Sydney time, CAV told The Reg the following:

"Consumer Affairs Victoria has been in contact with Apple to clarify content of the news alert. While this takes place the alert has been removed from the website."

Apple had already disowned the content of the page.

“This is not something that has come from Apple,” Apple Australia PR person Fiona Martin told El Reg in a voicemail deposited on Wednesday morning. Martin suggested we ask Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) to explain itself, and we did.

CAV's response, issued on Wednesday afternoon, offered a link to this New York Times article that details account fraud but makes no allegations about counterfeit or cloned apps. A CAV spokesperson did offer anodyne advice to this effect:

Consumer Affairs Victoria reminds consumers to always remain vigilant in the online environment and provides advice when concerns are raised in the public domain about potential consumer detriment.

Even when using trusted service providers, it is important that consumers take all reasonable steps to prevent being scammed.

But the agency did not provide any evidence for its claim the App Store contains data-sucking counterfeit apps and has since removed the page, which now produces a neat 404 error. If you want to view what was online yesterday, we've reproduced the relevant bits below, and if you doubt us there's a full screen grab you can view here

Consumer Affairs Victoria's app store counterfeit app claim

Mobile application security vulnerability report

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