Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/07/05/itunes_app_store_manipulation/

iTunes hack used to fiddle App Store ratings

103 stars for me! I'm awesome!

By John Leyden

Posted in Security, 5th July 2010 11:29 GMT

Compromised Apple App Store accounts have been abused by rogue developers to boost their ranking and increase their sales.

Hijacked accounts were reportedly used to buy multiple copies of previously obscure Vietnamese-language eBooks, in an apparent bid to game the iTunes ranking system.

The eBooks concerned have been pulled from Apple's store and the account of seller Thuat Nguyen of mycompany has been suspended, Mac Rumours reports.

During the apparent attack 42 of the top 50 books listed in iTunes came from Nguyen, Endgadget reports.

The manipulation had a negative effect on the rankings of legitimate application and content developers, who were first to raise the alarm over the apparent malfeasance on Saturday after noticing that their apps had fallen straight off the charts.

Early reports are split over the extent of the apparent scam. Mac Rumours reckons that a small number of accounts were breached, probably as the result of a phishing attack. However, TNW Apple reports that the scam involved apps from several developers in different countries. It reckons the Apple App store is full of account pilfering and laundering App Farms.

Whatever the extent of the problem it wouldn't hurt to follow TNW's security advice for App Store users here. The FAQ provides far more detailed security tips than Apple's reported advice that anyone who suspects problems with their account ought to change their password. ®