Monday, September 21, 2015

The Biggest Apple App Store Failure

Apple’s iOS App Store for mobile devices had been remarkably clean of malware until last week, when a cluster of infected apps made it past Apple’s controls, and engineers at Apple had to spend half a day cleaning up the problem. It happened after a criminal group in China posted an altered version of Xcode on Baidu. Some developers downloaded the tainted version, in part because the national firewall makes it difficult to obtain the official version. China Digital quoted in Fortune:

Xcode is usually obtained directly from Apple’s Mac App Store, but because large cross-border downloads can be slow and unreliable in China, in large part because of the government’s Internet controls, many users there turn to potentially unsafe unofficial sources.

Apple can surely find a way around this problem, perhaps by providing a way to download Xcode in smaller pieces that are easy for developers to verify. For China, though, similar security problems will continue to occur as long as the country’s Internet remains relatively isolated from the global Internet. These network security issues often prevent sales transactions from going through. It is ultimately an unacceptable problem for a country that is otherwise seeking to boost exports at all costs.

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