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Apple fails to block stolen iOS in-app content

Donations keep cheeky Russian hacker's servers alive

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Apple has moved to shut down a hack that allows users of iOS devices to download in-app content without paying for it – but the service is still operating and its creator remains defiant.

The exploit relies in part on a custom DNS server that intercepts incoming purchase requests from iOS devices. Over the weekend, Apple blocked that server's IP address, preventing it from connecting to the legitimate App Store, and issued a takedown request to its ISP, TheNextWeb reports.

Apple has also asserted a copyright claim against the instructional video explaining the hack, which has since been removed from YouTube.

It is estimated that the In-Appstore.com service has already been used to download in-app content more than 30,000 times.

The man behind the hack, who goes by the handle ZonD80, has been identified as Russian programmer Alexey V. Borodin.

Despite Cupertino's best efforts, Borodin continues to host the in-app purchasing exploit at In-Appstore.com. A DNS lookup of that domain suggests it may currently be operating from a server located in Panama.

Although Apple has recently released iOS 6 beta 3 to developers, Borodin says that patch does nothing to block his exploit.

The cheeky Russian has actually gone as far as to publish terms of service for his hack, which state that the service comes with no warranty and that he won't be held responsible for any damages.

Nonetheless, the server is not collecting any user information, Borodin says. Although users may be asked for their App Store password when connecting to the server, he advises them to enter a random one. "This is a real appstore do [sic]," he writes.

Furthermore, Borodin insists that the hack costs users nothing and it will always be free, and he asks that merchants not contact him about profit-sharing opportunities. He is still fishing for donations, however.

Traffic to the service has been heavy, Borodin says, and his virtualized server has buckled under the load. He'd like to raise some cash to buy a dedicated machine with more bandwidth.

That may be wishful thinking, however. On Sunday, Borodin was again pleading for donations. "Tomorrow service will be shut down," he wrote, "if I cannot find $50 for bill for hosting for next month (it's already unpaid for two days)."

That request may have been granted, but gathering donations hasn't been easy for Borodin. On Friday, PayPal suspended his account for violations of its acceptable use policy, meaning he won't be able to access those funds for 180 days. Borodin is now accepting funds via the BitCoin digital currency.

He'll accept another kind of donation, too. "Apple, please contact me," he writes. "I want to share my experience with you, if you give me one iPhone 5 for free!"

Apple did not immediately respond for requests for comment, but it seems unlikely that providing a free iPhone is what it has in mind. ®

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