Companies skirt Apple rules to spread porn and gambling apps

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Apple’s enterprise certificate program, which allows companies to create and distribute iPhone apps outside of Apple’s App Store, is being abused to spread content related to pornography and gambling, TechCrunch reports.

It was reported earlier this year that Facebook and Google were likewise violating Apple’s rules to distribute apps of their own.

While normally anyone looking to run an app not listed in Apple’s store would have to jailbreak their device, the certificate program allows companies to create iPhone-ready apps that can be side-loaded onto phones.

The enterprise program was set up to allow companies to share their own apps internally. Although participants must agree to a strict set of rules, dozens of violations have been found.

TechCrunch’s investigation discovered “a dozen hardcore pornography apps and a dozen real-money gambling apps that escaped Apple’s oversight” on a range of websites. Per TechCrunch:

The developers passed Apple’s weak Enterprise Certificate screening process or piggybacked on a legitimate approval, allowing them to sidestep the App Store and Cupertino’s traditional safeguards designed to keep iOS family-friendly.

Many of the apps “were rarely registered to company names related to their true purpose,” while others used other companies’ names entirely.

In a statement to TechCrunch, an Apple spokesperson said that any apps found to be in violation would have their certificates revoked.

“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,” the spokesperson said. “We are continuously evaluating the cases of misuse and are prepared to take immediate action.”

Although none of the apps were found to be engaging in shady data gathering practices, critics argue Apple is not doing enough to screen companies looking to participate in the enterprise program.

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H/T TechCrunch

Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.