Apple on App Store Fraud

Interesting piece at Apple’s Newsroom, headlined: “App Store Stopped More Than $1.5 Billion in Potentially Fraudulent Transactions in 2020”:

It takes significant resources behind the scenes to ensure these bad actors can’t exploit users’ most sensitive information, from location to payment details. While it’s impossible to catch every act of fraud or ill intent before it happens, thanks to Apple’s industry-leading antifraud efforts, security experts agree the App Store is the safest place to find and download apps.

In 2020 alone, Apple’s combination of sophisticated technology and human expertise protected customers from more than $1.5 billion in potentially fraudulent transactions, preventing the attempted theft of their money, information, and time — and kept nearly a million risky and vulnerable new apps out of their hands.

Among the numbers dropped in this post, all from calendar year 2020:

  • 244 million customer accounts deactivated.
  • 424 million attempted account creations rejected.
  • 470,000 developer accounts terminated.

There’s nothing curious about the timing of this post — it’s in response to some embarrassing stories about fraud apps in the App Store, revealed through discovery in the Epic v. Apple trial, and through the news in recent weeks. The fact that Apple would post this now is pretty telling — to me at least — about how they see the trial going. I think Apple clearly sees itself on solid ground legally, and their biggest concern is this relatively minor public relations issue around scam apps continuing to slip through the App Store reviewing process.

It couldn’t be more transparent. Nobody is being fooled that, if Epic-v.-Apple weren’t happening right now, that Apple would have posted this Newsroom story today, just out of the blue. We know why they posted this today, and they know that we know — no one is fooling anyone. But these are interesting numbers!

What Apple is trying to say is that this is a five nines sort of problem — that they could (and do) stop 99.999 percent of scams but the App Store is such a juicy target for crooks that hundreds of scams still slip though.

Why not 99.99999 percent efficiency though? Apple is the richest company in the world. If they want to run the App Store with whatever-they-say-goes authority, why should we, as customers, demand anything less than perfection on the fraud and scam front? True perfection they’re never going to achieve, but it sure seems like Apple could be doing better than they are. And they know it.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021