By Alexandra Burlacu | Apr 22, 2013 10:56 AM EDT
A Chinese firm found a way for users in China to download normally paid applications to their iPhones or iPads without actually paying a dime.
The firm apparently found a technique to achieve this without having to jailbreak the iOS device in question, by exploiting a certain vulnerability.
VentureBeat was the first to discover the exploit in question and reports that a Chinese "app store" called 7659.com managed to take advantage of a loophole in Apple's bulk enterprise licensing. Thanks to this loophole, users can download paid applications for free without having to jailbreak their devices as they would in previous exploits.
Apple's enterprise app deployment technology is designed to allow a major company to deploy certain programs across an unlimited number of corporate iOS devices, provided that said company has a developer provisioning profile with the Cupertino giant. This way, companies can get applications to various devices in a quick and efficient manner, without having to individually download programs to each device.
It all sounds plain, simple and fair, but for the Chinese firm, this technique meant it could essentially provide users with an application marketplace simply by obtaining the enterprise provision. Roughly 5 million people in China are already using the service to access applications, according to VentureBeat, and a number of popular paid apps are downloaded without paying a dime.
Access to the service is currently China-bound, which means the service is not available outside of the country. Kuaiyong, the company behind 7659, warns users to "not use Apple ID or [Apple's] App Store" so the Cupertino giant would not shut down their access to programs.
Android devices are so popular not only for their generally affordable price tags, but also for the platform's openness compared to Apple's walled garden. Many iOS users choose to jailbreak their devices particularly to escape Apple's closed ecosystem and tweak their handsets in a more open manner.
Apple has yet to comment on the Chinese firm's exploit and subsequent results, but it likely won't be too happy that users are able to download paid apps for free. The exploit may bring great news to consumers, but things are not as bright for Apple and developers who expect to get paid for those apps.
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