Apple said this week that more than 343,000 iOS apps were blocked by the App Store App Review team for privacy violations last year, while another 157,000 were rejected for attempting to mislead or spam iOS users. The company added that it also blocked over 34,500 applications from getting indexed on the App Store because they were using undocumented or hidden features. Apple also removed 155,000 more apps for bait-and-switch tactics, such as adding new features or capabilities after approval. Throughout 2021, the App Review team stopped more than 1.6 million risky or vulnerable apps and updates from landing on the App Store and potentially defrauding users.
Even though Apple removed these fraudulent or malicious apps from their App store, some are bound to slip through their review process. The number of apps removed should give one a sense of the scale of efforts threat actors make to get their fraudulent apps into the Apple App store. Scam apps, known as fleeceware, are still a big problem on the iOS App Store, as discovered by researchers at Avast last year. Such apps lure customers with promises of free trials but will instead require excessive subscription costs of thousands of dollars per year. Always read reviews of apps before you download them on the App store, as their presence does not always guarantee that they are legitimate.