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Apple kills app that could tell if your iPhone was hacked

The app was designed to pinpoint potential security holes, but Apple claimed its information could be misleading.


Apple has pulled an app that could alert you to possible security issues.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

A new iPhone diagnostic app has been given the cold shoulder by Apple.

Released little more than a week ago, an app dubbed System and Security Info aimed to deliver core details about your iPhone, including your CPU, memory and disk usage along with a list of all running processes. More critically, the app aimed to reveal if your device had been jailbroken, compromised in some way or possibly infected by malware.

On Saturday, Apple removed System and Security Info from its App Store as noted in a series of tweets by its creator, German security researcher and iOS hacker Stefan Esser. To justify its action, Apple faulted the app for providing "potentially inaccurate and misleading diagnostic functionality for iOS devices." Apple added that there is no current infrastructure to analyze iOS diagnostics, and that's why the app might report invalid information.

Despite Apple's guidelines, the company has a history of inconsistency in determining which apps to approve and which ones to deny. An app can sometimes be approved initially but then get the heave-ho from the App Store if Apple later decides it ran afoul of one or more of its developer rules and regulations.

In several follow-up tweets, Esser faulted Apple for killing the app. System and Security Info went through three reviews at Apple due to bug fixes and was "suddenly considered unwanted" after the fourth review, according to Esser. Apple also said that showing a list of running processes on your iPhone is considered a privacy violation, Esser added.

A spokeswoman for Apple confirmed that the app was pulled because it violated the company's user privacy policy.

Esser said he believes Apple waited until some of the media hype about the app calmed down before pulling it. Finally, Esser pointed out that other apps provide system diagnostics but they still reside on the App Store.

"The only reason our app is pulled and not the others that show system info/jailbreak status is because we put a dent in 'unbreakable iOS,'" Esser tweeted, which to him is Apple's way of saying: "We do not want our users to have the impression iOS could have security holes."

Esser tweeted that he would like the app reinstated or wants Apple to add the same functionality to iOS. But he didn't say if he would or could make any changes to the app to regain Apple's approval.

Esser did not respond to CNET's request for comment.