The Mac App Store reportedly harbors multiple shady apps that extort exorbitant subscription fees from unsuspecting users. While Windows and Android often get a bad rap for various forms of malware, the App Store also isn’t as clean and trustworthy as Apple might have users believe. Time and again, reports have pointed out the prevalence of shady apps on the platform, and Apple hasn’t always been quick to remove them, either.
The past couple of years have seen an alarming growth in cyber-crime globally, including phishing, ransomware, spyware and crypto scams. Many of these relate to fake apps that target unsuspecting victims. Earlier this month, Google removed six fake Android antivirus apps from the Play Store for spreading the dangerous ‘Sharkbot’ banking malware. Now Apple has a lot on its hands following reports of scam apps identified on the Mac App Store.
Developer Kosta Eleftheriou has identified a shady Mac app that disables the ‘Quit’ option on the Mac’s menu bar so that users cannot exit it without paying a subscription fee. Eleftheriou started investigating such apps after Twitter user Edoardo Vacchi posted about an app called ‘My Metronome,’ calling it ‘ransomware’ and complaining that there’s no way to report it to Apple. Following the complaint, Eleftheriou checked out the contentious app and found Vacchi’s allegations to be mostly accurate. Apple has since apparently removed the app from the App Store, as it is no longer accessible by the original link.
Scam Apps Abound On The Mac App Store
Following Eleftheriou’s investigation, developer Jeff Johnson also looked into the issue and found that the developer behind My Metronome, Music Paradise LLC, has a Russian address. What’s more, another Mac developer called Groove Vibes is registered at the same address and also offers apps with similar questionable credentials. Once a connection was established between the two sketchy developers, The Verge conducted an experiment by downloading and installing the apps offered by both of them. That included Music Paradise’s second app ‘Music Paradise Player’ as well as all apps offered by Groove Vibes.
As it turned out, some of the apps offered by Groove Vibes worked as expected, allowing users to close them using the ‘Quit’ option from the menu bar, as well as through the Command+Q keyboard shortcut. However, a few of the other apps from the developer and Music Paradise’s music player app showed the same properties as My Metronome, greying out the ‘Quit’ option on the menu bar and disabling the keyboard shortcuts to stop users from force closing the apps. However, users could still close the apps using either an ‘X’ button on the app window or other in-app links.
None of the apps mentioned above qualify as genuine ransomware because they do not lock up the machine entirely. However, they are incredibly shady in how they operate, and Apple needs to address this situation and reprimand these developers so that it can restore people’s faith in the Mac App Store. Apple has yet to release a statement on the latest controversy, but it will be interesting to see what it has to say about the scams being run on the Mac App Store in broad daylight.
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