Security Experts:

Apple Investigating In-App Purchasing Hack

Apple is investigating ways to prevent people from bypassing the In-App purchasing mechanism (IAP), the company says. However, aside from forcing a demo video offline with a DMCA request to YouTube, the “iDevice” giant is coming up empty.

By bypassing IAP, Apple would like people to know that they are depriving a developer or development firm of payment for all their hard work. Supporters of the IAP hack are reminding people that those who use it are also depriving Apple of their 30% cut, and they are getting overpriced additional content free. It’s all a matter of personal morals.

However, the Russian researcher who discovered the Man-In-The-Middle trick – one that Apple should have spotted and fixed some time ago – has started a service that allows the IAP bypass to remain functional. Over the weekend, the IAP bypass was expanded to include online games – after donations and technological assistance enabled the in-appstore.com service to remain for a month and skirt past the basic blocking Apple attempted.

Aside form the success in removing the initial video showing off the attack, Apple has made little progress in preventing the IAP bypass. However, because of demand, the trick isn’t always 100% successful. Moreover, contrary to what some media outlets are reporting, the IAP bypass does not offer free games or apps; it only allows someone to gain the additional purchased content – such as coins, extra levels, etc.

Apple spokeswoman, Natalie Harrison, said that they are investigating the IAP bypass, as the “security of the App Store is incredibly important to us and the developer community.”

For now, the IAP bypass trick works both on and offline, and on both jailbroken and non-jailbroken iDevices. Moreover, Apple has made no mention of how they plan to stop it (if they can), or if they will compensate developers – if they can prove the bypass was used against them.

Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.