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In-App Purchase Hacks And Click Theft – A Detailed Analysis And Solution

In-App Purchase Hacks And Click Theft – A Detailed Analysis And Solution

A shocking report by Apsalar shows an astounding global click-to-install (CTI) fraud rate of 2.57 and in-app purchase (IAP) fraud rate of 7.49. The fraudulent activities vary region-wise, with Hong Kong leading the CTI frauds and China leading the IAP frauds. The United States has managed to stay out of the top ten countries, as of now.

In-App Purchase Hacks And Click Theft – A Detailed Analysis And Solution

Click To Install Fraud

Click to install is basically the number of clicks needed to install an app. It basically follows the CPC concept, where a user needs to make a single click to install the app. The data clearly shows that 1.7 clicks go unaccounted for every legitimate transaction. Even though mobile app purchase is a virtual transfer of goods, the amount of money that should legally go to the app developer is unrecoverable.

In-App Purchase Fraud

Many apps are free to download, but provide premium access only after in-app purchases. Jailbroken and rooted devices can easily break into the app, as users have access to the system file. Thus, hacking the app for in-app purchase is quite easy when compared to click-to-install.

How Users Hack Into The App

It helps to understand how users get unauthorized access to secured areas. It’s tempting to try and get something paid for free, we are human after all. But, the fact that more than 50% of app developers are below the poverty line should bring out the morality in us. It’s wrong and completely unethical to steal something, even though it cannot be traced back to the theif.

Faking An In-App Purchase

It’s a complex procedure where the hacker exploits the loopholes that most apps have. They can manipulate the app into thinking that they are connecting to the Apple of Google’s server, when, in reality, it’s intervened by a third-party server. Hacking the app for in-app purchase is quite easy compared to click-to-install, as it’s done though the app source files. Applying such backdoor techniques is quite tricky and done by expert hackers who later create a crack for the particular app and release it to the world. Others merely download such patches and fool the application into scamming the in-app purchase.

Overwriting Store’s Balance

Using trial and error method, users access the system file to manipulate the store’s balance. Such vulnerabilities exist in most apps, they figure out which file holds the app balance details and manipulate it. There are many such overwriting processes found in the internet which help users manipulate the app balance.

How To Find When And If You Are Hacked

Prevention is always better than a cure, so it’s important to understand how such hacks take place and prevent them in the initial stages. Plenty of app developers notice a $1,000 sale, only to find a couple of dollars in their account. Monitor and analyze the app finances, as irregular patterns will point you towards fraudulent activities, such as:

  • When you notice a purchase recorded in the app store, but have not received the money for it
  • When you find there is a purchase happening for more than $50 in a day by the same user
  • When you notice an invalid amount or credit transferred, which is not relevant to any of the app packages

There are many such instances which can indicate there is an app transaction fraud taking place. If your gut says there is something wrong, then you should monitor those transactions. When you notice there are more number of transactions recorded compared to the received payments, then something drastic should be done to fix the issue immediately.

When you find such hacks are taking place, it’s essential to prevent them and remove wrongful users from using your app again. You also have the option to revoke unauthorized credits and privileges to ensure the user has the same level of access as other legitimate app users.

How To Prevent App Hacks

Using a server for your app can reduce some level of hacks. It will not remove all inefficiencies, but can stop them to a certain extent. In the event where users hack the apps using files on their device, it’s impossible to put an end to it with the app-side servers. Most jailbroken and rooted device owners tend to perform such hacks as they can easily access the system files. There is a bright side to this situation, as only a small number of devices are either jailbroken or rooted.

The Awareness And Need To Stop App Frauds

The most shocking aspect is that most app developers are aware of such frauds but don’t care or bother to address the issue. Their argument is that when a user performs such hacks, they are definitely not going to pay for the services. They tend to overlook such issues and concentrate on other aspects of app development. Under such conditions, the in-app payment and click-to-install fraud rate will increase on a daily basis.

To put an end to it, developers need to understand the impact fraud has on their applications. If you have a gaming app, such in-app purchases pose a great advantage to hackers than the legitimate users. When the gaming community learns about the group of “so-called cheaters” who have unlimited advantages, then the value and respect for the game diminishes along with the developer’s reputation.

Understanding the importance of fair-play, developers should take some effort to keep hackers away and make the application an equal playground for all users. Our Los Angeles app developers, have security as their main priority and perform constant checks on all our apps to ensure they’re hack-free!