Apple’s technology has been hijacked by software pirates to distribute hacked versions of Spotify, Angry Birds, Pokemon Go, Minecraft and other popular apps on iPhones, Reuters has found.
Illicit software distributors such as TutuApp, Panda Helper, AppValley and TweakBox have found ways to use digital certificates to get access to a program Apple introduced to let corporations distribute business apps to their employees without going through Apple’s tightly controlled App Store.
Using so-called enterprise developer certificates, these pirate operations are providing modified versions of popular apps to consumers, enabling them to stream music without ads and to circumvent fees and rules in games, depriving Apple and legitimate app makers of revenue.
After being alerted by Reuters to these developer accounts being used to distribute hacked apps, Apple removed a number of them, but more have since sprung up to take their place.
By doing so, the pirate app distributors are violating the rules of Apple’s developer programs, which only allow apps to be distributed to the general public through the App Store. Downloading modified versions violates the terms of service of almost all major apps.
“Developers that abuse our enterprise certificates are in violation of the Apple Developer Enterprise Program Agreement and will have their certificates terminated, and if appropriate, they will be removed from our Developer Program completely,” an Apple spokesperson told Reuters
Apple today announced that as of February 27, all developer accounts will require two-factor authentication to be turned on, a move that will help secure these accounts and limit their ability to be traded or sold amongst those seeking to skirt Apple’s rules.