A new exploit aimed at iOS devices enables users to gain free access to paid content within applications, thereby circumventing built-in security measures.
The hack, which was detailed by a Russian programmer and picked up by 9to5mac this morning (via i-ekb.ru), uses a proxy system to send purchase requests to third-party servers where they are validated, and sent back to the application as if the transaction had gone through. However before that happens, users need to install special security certificates on their device, as well as be on a Wi-Fi network.
The individual behind the effort has already set up a Web site set up for donations to run the proxy servers, which are required to make the trick work.
The loophole goes beyond apps, and covers other types of content that phone home to Apple for verification. That includes Newsstand, the company’s digital newspaper service, which typically offers things like newspapers and magazines for free, with in-app purchases to buy subscriptions, or individual issues.
Of note, the demonstration of the hack (which is embedded below) depicts the feature working on a beta version iOS 6, which is due out later this year. Its creators claim it works all the way back to iOS 3, which is when in-app purchasing was first added.
Apple introduced in-app purchasing in early 2009, and later that year enabled the feature to work inside of free applications. The feature was designed to add an extra revenue stream for developers, as well as simplify the process of publishing apps so that additional paid features could be added even after a piece of software was released. Like app purchases themselves, digital items purchased from within apps carry a revenue split that gives developers 70 percent of the proceeds, while Apple takes the other 30 percent.