Dubai: If you are an iTunes user, you might want to think again before entering your username and password when you see the iTunes log-in prompt repeatedly popping on your iPhone, iPad, or any other device that can access the iTunes service.
Dubai resident Mohammad, 37, found it out the hard way on July 21 after discovering that he had been unduly charged on his credit card for purchasing applications from the iTunes store without his knowledge.
“The log-in prompt appeared three times on three different occasions. I didn’t suspect anything fishy when it happened for the first time. But the second and third time that it prompted me to log in to my account without reason, that’s when I got worried,” the health and safety officer told Gulf News.
Curious as to what might have happened, Mohammad checked his online purchase record and discovered that he had been ripped off over Dh200 for applications that he never authorised to be purchased. Worse, the applications flooded his iPhone almost non-stop.
“Roughly 40 per cent of the apps [applications] were paid while the rest was free. Majority of the apps were poor-quality games, similar to the viewing experience you’d get from a pirated movie,” Mohammad said.
“I immediately called my bank to block my card as I was afraid my bill could skyrocket if I didn’t take any precautions,” he said, adding that he immediately changed his log-in details, too.
Reports of malicious attacks against the Apple Online store and the iTunes Store resulting in data security breaches surfaced in 2010. But most of the complaints were reported in the US. The issue resurfaced in March, April, and most recently, in July.
Apple has not categorically denied nor confirmed the allegations. It declined to issue a comment to Gulf News on the matter. Instead, it gave a link highlighting tips on how to protect the security of users’ accounts.
In Apple’s support community forum, the thread ‘iTunes store account hacked’ got 1,730 replies, the last one being on July 17, 2012. Many more threads contained complaints of similar nature with ‘fraudulent purchases, stolen money’ as the recurring theme. Some bluntly said: avoid iTunes like the plague.
Mohammad, for his part, fears that the ‘plague’ has reached the shores of Dubai.
“Though Apple addressed my concerns right away, I still feel paranoid at times. I don’t feel secure anymore,” Mohammad said.
“Regardless of the amount that was stolen from me, at the end of the day, fraud is still fraud. That’s why I want people to be aware of these things and take precautions.”