Apple has removed an app it unknowingly hosted in the App Store that scammed Facebook advertisers and led hackers to use advertisers’ ad budgets to display potentially harmful ads on the Facebook platforms. Business Insider reports.


The app previously scored highly in the ‌App Store‌ when searching for “Facebook Ads Manager”, the app used by advertisers to manage their presence and ads they display on the Facebook platform. The app presented itself as the legitimate ad manager for Facebook, but was actually a backdoor through which hackers could gain access to an account. An advertising agency employee said: Insider they were locked out of their account within just 10 minutes of downloading and logging into the app from Apple’s ‌App Store‌.

Apple said the app was originally submitted to the ‌App Store‌ as a simple document manager with no affiliation or functionality with the Facebook platform. Apple claimed in a statement to Insider that the app became malicious after it was approved for the company platform. Facebook flagged the app at Apple in mid-July, but only after Insiders request for comment to the Cupertino tech giant, the app had been removed from the platform.

Apple proudly states that the ‌App Store‌ is “a safe and trusted place to discover and download apps”, holding apps to the “highest standards of privacy, security and content”. Apple screens all apps before they are offered for download in the ‌App Store‌. According to the company, more than 250,000 apps were rejected from the ‌App Store‌ for violating privacy guidelines last year, with an even larger 1 million apps rejected for potentially harmful and insecure content.

Despite Apple’s best efforts, scam apps continue to be a problem for the platform. A survey last year found that 2% of the top 1000 highest paid apps in the ‌App Store‌ at the time were scam apps, with those apps reportedly earning more than $1 million in revenue. In another case, a fake bitcoin app has made its way to earn more than $610,000 after being on Apple’s platform.

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