Apple Demands Uber to Stop
Posted on May 16, 2017 by ORC Editor
Uber was trying to catch Chinese fraudsters but broke Apple’s privacy rules in its iOS app while doing so. As a result, Uber CEO was hauled in to Cupertino for a personal dressing down from Tim Cook.
As you may know, Apple maintains a policy which prevents developers from identifying specific iPhones for privacy reasons. The company argues that a completely wiped and resold phone should have no links to its previous owner at all. This is why Apple stopped allowing apps on its App Store to access any identifying information 5 years ago.
However, Uber broke Apple’s rules in its effort to prevent a particular type of fraud in China, where scammers load up stolen credit cards and make fake rides, then wipe the phone and repeat the process. Uber even tried adding code to its app so that if it’s opened inside Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, no rule-breaking code can be seen. However, the trick didn’t work out and Apple discovered the subterfuge.
It turned out that Uber was using a code normally used by Apple itself to pull iPhone serial numbers out of its operating system. Those numbers remain the same, even if the phone is wiped and reactivated with a new user account. However, this trick no longer works: apps can’t discover the serial number this way in the most recent version of iOS.
Uber explained that it was a typical way to prevent the frauds where criminals loaded its app onto a stolen phone, indicated a stolen credit card, took an expensive ride and then wiped the phone – over and over again. The company admitted using similar techniques for detecting and blocking suspicious logins to protect its users’ accounts.