June 2, 2022

Apple says App Store stopped fraudulent transactions worth $1.5 billion

Apple released their second annual fraud prevention analysis which says that it protected customers from nearly $1.5 billion in potentially fraudulent transactions, while also stopping 1.6 million risky and vulnerable app updates from affecting users. The company states that it has many processes that continuously monitor its App Store to reduce fraud.

The company states that it prevented more than 3.3 million stolen cards from being used and that it banned nearly 600,000 accounts from transacting again. According to the company, it protected users from a total of nearly $1.5 billion in potentially fraudulent transactions in 2021.

One of these is the App Store’s App Review that combines computer automation with manual human review to act as a gatekeeper for apps that want to be on the App Store. The App Review team reviews all apps and updates to make sure they follow Apple’s guidelines related to privacy, security and spam. The company terms this team as a critical line of defence, protecting users from bad actors.

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In 2021, over 107,00 new developers were able to get their apps on the store after going through the app review process, revealed the company. In the same year, over 835,000 problematic new apps and another 805,000 app updates were rejected or removed for a range of reasons.

A smaller group of apps and updates were rejected for what Apple calls “flagrant violations that could harm users or deeply diminish their experience.” In 2021, this included more than 34.500 apps rejected for containing hidden or undocumented features and upwards of 157,000 apps rejected because they were found to be either spam, copycat or misleading to users. Some of these were trying to manipulate users into making purchases.

According to Apple, developers sometimes try to circumvent App Review by creating an app that passes the review and then altering its concept or functionality once it has been approved. During such instances, AppReview removes such apps and impacted developers’ accounts will be terminated after they receive a 14-day appeals process notice. In 2021, over 343,000 apps were rejected for requesting more user data than necessary or mishandling data they already collected.

Removal of fraudulent ratings and reviews on the App Store

Users often depend on reviews and ratings to decide whether an app is right for them or which app is best for their use from a list of options. These ratings also help improve discoverability on the App Store, and also give developers feedback about how to improve their app and its features according to what users want. But illegitimate ratings and reviews threaten all of this, letting untrustworthy apps game the system to trick users into downloading the app through misrepresentation.

Apple says its App Store processed over 1 billion ratings and reviews in 2021, and deleted and blocked over 94 million reviews and 170 million ratings after they failed to meet moderation standards. Another 610,000 reviews were removed after publication based on customer concern submissions and human evaluation.

Apple also deletes developer accounts if they are used for fraudulent purposes or in a deceitful fashion. It terminated over 802,000 developer accounts in 2021, and an additional 153,000 developer enrollments were rejected over fraud concerts, preventing bad actors from submitting an app to the store.

The company also blocked more than 3.3 million instances of apps distributed illicitly through the company’s Enterprise Developer Program which is aimed at allowing large organisations to develop and privately distribute apps for internal use.

The Cupertino-based tech giant also deactivated over 170 million customer accounts that were associated with fraud and abusive activity. Also, another 118 million attempted account creations were rejected in 2021 because they displayed patterns consistent with fraudulent and abuse activity.

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