The App Store might not be as secure as you'd hoped, as researchers have found a number of scam-prone apps that are still available and thriving on Apple's service.
Scams are a common part of the online world at this point and being able to protect yourself is key. Password manager, VPNs, and antivirus software are a good start, but some scams online can only be prevented through vigilance.
This is one of those scams, as apps in the App Store have a unique methodology for getting you to pay money for services you would never want to in the first place.
Scams on Apple's App Store
According to researcher Kosta Eleftheriou — an avid scam hunter for Apple services — the App Store is currently housing some seriously questionable apps for Mac that have somehow made it passed the review process.
The process by which these apps scam you is unique to say the least. They use pop-up windows to encourage users to pay for a subscription service in the range of $10 per month. The catch? You can't actually close the pop-up window until you agree to pay the fee, essentially bricking your device until you comply, which you can see from the first app discovered with the scam, My Metronome.
I didn’t think this was possible:
This App Store app immediately asks you for money and then *disables* the “Quit” option so that you can never close it!
And it’s been like that on the App Store for years!https://t.co/DpOLtz9PCd pic.twitter.com/UCnRq2WvnF
— Kosta Eleftheriou (@keleftheriou) April 14, 2022
To say this scam is inconvenient is a bit of an understatement. Even worse, these scam hunters found that there's a whole bunch of these types of apps on the App Store, ripe for the scamming. My Metronome has since disappeared from the app store, but others have surfaced from the same two companies, Music Paradise, LLC and Groove Vibes.
How to Spot Scam Apps
With these kinds of apps floating around the App Store, the last thing you want to do is accidentally download one or, heaven forbid, actually launch one. Fortunately, we at Tech.co are pros when it comes to spotting scams, and we've got a few tips for you to help you stay safe on the App Store.
For one, the importance of vigilance cannot be overstated. In most cases, these scam apps have some obvious indicators that they are not for real. Between spelling errors, unprofessional screenshots, asymmetrical design choices, and lazy app descriptions, you should be able to tell that an app isn't legitimate with just a cursory glance at the source material.
To take that a bit further, you'll want to make sure to do a bit of research if you are buying an app from a lesser-known provider. Even a brief Google search like “Is _____ a scam?” should provide you with all the information you need about whether an app is safe for you to use.
Finally, having a few digital tools at your disposal to catch these kinds of scams is integral to protecting yourself online. Antivirus software is likely your best bet, as some of the best providers can notify you when something isn't right on your computer. Our research found that Avast Security for Mac is one of the best antivirus software at protecting your computer.