Apple’s China app store attacked, AA flights grounded and ad-blocking apps boom


Apple’s App Store hacked

This week’s featured cyber attack victim is Apple. The company’s iPhone and iPad users in China have been hit by a malicious program targeting the App Store.

Apple has said that the program, called XcodeGhost, has embedded a code into the apps in the App Store which allows hackers to collect sensitive data from users’ devices, according to the BBC.

Worryingly, even the most popular apps were compromised, including WeChat and a widely used car-hailing app.

The Cupertino, California company, generally known for the security of its devices and systems, is on top of the issue, claiming that all affected apps have already been removed from the App Store until they can be verified as the proper, non-malicious versions.

AA grounds flights

On Thursday, American Airlines was forced to ground a string of flights, including some flying from Miami, Dallas, and Chicago, due to issues with its computers.

The incident comes in the wake of similar computer glitches, with United Airlines grounded flights on two separate occasions earlier this year due to network connectivity issues, and American Airlines itself previously grounding flights due to a malfunctioning iPad application used by pilots.

Time Magazine spoke to an American Airlines spokesman, who claimed that the connectivity issues had been resolved.  “We apologise for the inconvenience and are working to get our customers on their way as soon as possible.”  Despite the quick fix, airline passengers will not be reassured by the airline’s latest technological setback.

Boom for Ad-blocking apps

On Wednesday, Apple launched iOS 9, which introduced a number of native ad-blocking applications.  While pop up ads can be a general annoyance, the boom in demand for such adblocking capabilities is unprecedented, as one specific blocker, called Peace, became the top paid application U.K., U.S., Australia, and Canada, while a number of others have sealed top 10 spots.

There is still a lot of ambiguity surrounding such adblocking platforms, for example what kinds of content they target and how to enable the ad blocking functions.  The uncertainties have not stemmed the tide of enthusiasm from mobile users.

Ad-blocking application Peace met with so much popularity that its creator, Marco Arment, pulled the app off the store just two days after its release.  While the adblockers benefit users, they also harm a number of entities that rely on the advertising for revenue and visibility.

Arment wrote in a blog post: “Achieving this much success with Peace just doesn’t feel good, which I didn’t anticipate, but probably should have. Ad-blockers come with an important asterisk: while they do benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who don’t deserve the hit.”