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Phones

Pirates reportedly use Apple certs to release hacked apps on iPhone

They've put out hacked versions of Spotify, Angry Birds, Pokemon Go and Minecraft, Reuters reported.

App store

Pirates reportedly managed to get altered versions of popular apps onto the App Store.

Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images

Pirates used Apple's enterprise developer certificates to put out hacked versions of some major apps, a report said Thursday.

The altered versions of Spotify, Angry Birds, Pokemon Go and Minecraft make paid features available for free and remove in-app ads, according to Reuters, sucking revenue away from the app developers and Apple.

For example, the pirated Spotify blocks the ads that normally play when you listen with a free subscription and you can play the altered Minecraft for free (it normally costs $7 in the App Store). Some of the pirates reportedly offer paid subscriptions that let you access more stable versions of their modified apps.

The pirates appear to have figured out how use digital certs to get around Apple's carefully policed App Store by saying the apps will only be used by their employees, when they're actually being distributed to everyone. They even managed to get around a ban by using different certs.

Apple will reportedly take steps to fight back by requiring all app makers to use its two-factor authentication protocol from the end of February, so logging into an Apple ID will require a password and code sent to a trusted Apple device.

We reached out to Apple, Spotify, Angry Birds developer Rovio, Pokemon Go developer Niantic and Minecraft developer Mojang for comment. Spotify (which is cracking down on ad blockers) declined comment, while none of the others immediately responded to the request.

Last month, Apple briefly pulled enterprise certificates from both Facebook and Google after discovering that the companies used them market research apps that gathering people's data.

First published at 4:38 a.m. PT.
Updated at 5:03 a.m. PT: Adds that Spotify declined comment, noted its ad blocker crackdown.

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