Apple Inc. Bans Spyware Detection App That Informs Users Of Hacks

Apple has removed an app designed by hacker Stefan Esser from the App Store by. The app called “System and Security Info” highlights the security posture and running processes on iOS devices.

Why did Apple ban the app?

Esser received a message from the Cupertino-based company saying his app “provides potentially inaccurate and misleading diagnostic functionality for iOS devices,” and for this reason, his app was torpedoed from the App Store. When users search for the app, then they get to see a popup message on the App Store that says: “Item not available.”

Apple wrote, “Currently, there is no publicly available infrastructure to support iOS diagnostic analysis and therefore your app may report inaccurate information which could mislead or confuse your users.”

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HackRead got in touch with Esser, who informed them that the iPhone maker “killed the app. They do not want a security app on the store.” Esser tweeted that his app has been reviewed three times because of some bug fixes, but in the fourth review, it was “suddenly considered unwanted.”

According to Esser, his app was the only one on the App Store that had the capability of showing running processes in iOS 9. The app also helps in spotting iOS spyware that relied on modified public jailbreaks. The app does not exfiltrate data from devices. Esser says Apple’s explanation indicates that it does not want to give “the impression iOS could have security holes.”

Esser’s app shows detailed data on the state of a device’s security and includes possible anomalies like injected libraries and the state of code-signing and App Store binary encryption, plus a breakdown of any installed jailbreak.

Why are security apps important?

Apple always tries to prevent tampering and runs a hard line with security, and therefore, it is not surprising that the app was taken down. An important point to be noted is that Google also removed a cyber-security app from its Play store. However, under growing pressure from social media, it had to restore the app.

Apart from pictures, videos, music and location data, our smartphones carry a lot more important and personal data, financial information and Google searches, and this makes them easy targets for cyber-criminals and government-backed spies looking for money or users’ personal data. Post the San Bernardino shooting case, iPhone users who have been on the FBI’s radar lately need to know what’s going inside their device. For this reason, it is important to appreciate an app like “System and Security” rather than censoring it.