The tech company's App Store prevented $1.5 billion worth of fraud

Apple blocked 1.6 million fraudulent apps in 2021

photo_camera REUTERS/DADO RUVIC - Tech company's App Store prevented $1.5 billion worth of fraud

Tech company Apple detected and prevented more than 1.6 million dangerous or unreliable apps from defrauding users. The app store, which monitors potential illicit activity on its platform, has prevented approximately $1.5 billion worth of fraud over the past year 2021. 

During the same time period, up to 3.3 million stolen credit cards were blocked, the iPhone maker said in its recently released annual fraud analysis. The company attributes the detection and prevention of fraudulent apps to its App Review programme, a security system that combines computer automation with human labour dedicated to reviewing apps offered in the App Store and is a "critical component" in the app verification process, according to the company. 

"Bad actors continue to evolve their methods of online fraud, often making their schemes more difficult to recognise," the iPhone maker said in the report released ahead of its Worldwide Developers Conference next week, the iPhone maker noted, adding, "That's why Apple has continued to refine its processes, create new ones, and design solutions to address these threats."  

While Apple's 2022 fraud prevention analysis does not show a noticeable change in the number of fraudulent transactions from the previous year's report, it does show that there is a persistent problem of insecurity caused by malicious actors looking to take advantage of the dependency between consumers and apps to create scams.  

Dating apps and gift cards, scammers' favourites 

The record for user scams is held by gift cards, which rank as the preferred payment method for fraudsters, siphoning off as much as $148 million during the first three quarters of 2021. 

In second place in terms of scams are dating apps, whose users lost up to $547 million over the past year, a worrying 80% increase over the previous year, according to the US Federal Trade Commission and as reported by the newspaper Negocio. 

Fraud detection is a booming market 

According to the latest forecasts, the online fraud detection and prevention sector will grow from $30.7 billion in 2022 to $129 billion in 2029. Annual growth will be around 22.8% according to Fortune Business Insights. 

In the last year alone, 34,500 apps were rejected for containing undocumented or hidden features. In addition, more than 157,000 apps were removed because they were found to be "spammy, copycat or misleading to users, such as manipulating them into making a purchase", according to the report. 

Customers under scrutiny 

The company has also put the spotlight on suspicious users. Apple blocked 170 million accounts linked to fraudulent activity. In addition, the company prevented attempts to create up to 118 million potential new accounts by illicit patterns. "If an account exhibits behaviours similar to those involved in past abuses, they are disabled before they can be used," the company warns. 

Developer accounts that turn out to have malicious intent are immediately blocked by the company. Apple closed more than 802,000 such accounts over the past year, and an additional 153 billion registrations were dismissed on suspicion of fraud. In addition, during 2021, more than 63,500 illegitimate apps on pirate storefronts used to distribute malicious software on handsets were discovered and blocked.

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