Sideloading applications on iPhones was never easy thanks to Apple’s staunch efforts to control which iOS apps are allowed in the App store. Jailbreaking has been the only way to do that, and a lot of users avoided doing that as unlike Android, it wasn’t really a child’s play when it came to the iPhone.
But vShare, a pirated app store has recently figured out a way to bypass those security hoops letting them create a giant store of fake/pirated iPhone apps, even for non-jailbroken iPhones.
According to researchers at ProofPoint, Apple lets companies create their own applications that are solely used by their employees. The company has to pay $299 an year to get a special licensed certificate from Apple and these companies join the Apple Developer Enterprise program.
Those apps as mentioned are used only by the company’s employees and are therefore not on the App store. But an iPhone is allowed to download it as Apple servers uphold that certificate.
The pirates at vShare managed to get their hands on those certificates and hence, used them to create the vShare app. That vShare app is itself a portal to another app store within.
vShare holds a collection of the most downloaded iOS apps, all of them which are pirated versions of the paid ones.
It is right now unclear how many times these illegal apps were downloaded, but pricey titles like “Minecraft: Pocket Edition” that costs $6.99 have been liked 1.4 million times! This can lead to a serious loss to the developer if Apple doesn’t fix this.
So what is vShare?
vShare is not a legalized app store like Apple’s iTunes store, but it looks and works like one. It’s kind of like those Chinese App stores launched to take on Apple’s app store but couldn’t.
vShare on its website claims: “We respect intelligent property and devote to protect the right of authors. If you consider your right has been violated, please contact us by providing related documents. We’ll remove such contents immediately.”
Folks at CNNMoney tried to reach them but there was no response (for some obvious reasons).
The site has been operating since 2011 making this issue quite a huge one, they don’t really mention their whereabouts or anything regarding the owners. It is right now unclear whether Apple has taken any major steps to revoke their rights, but we’re sure they will very soon.
Also, some users until yesterday were able to download the apps but weren’t able to install today hinting at Apple already working on a fix.
The vShare website also offers pirated Android applications, but that’s really not a concern as there are thousands of other sites that offer the same.