A number of iTunes users are reporting that their accounts have been hacked and used to purchase a select group of applications, boosting the App Store rankings of those titles in the process. The Next Web initially reported that the titles in question were Books applications sold by developer Thuat Nguyen, which have subsequently been removed from the App Store. Upon further inspection and based on more reader reports, the site found that several companies are using hacked accounts to boost sales of their apps across multiple categories. Notably, at least one iLounge editor has seen his account hacked within the last month, although the fraudulent App Store purchases made while the account was compromised were not for apps made by any of the companies named in The Next Web’s report.
It is unclear exactly how the companies in question are acquiring the affected users’ account data, however, Mac Rumors points out that similar iTunes account hackings have been reported on its forums since January 2008, and argues that despite the rise in reports, which may be attributed to the added press coverage, the number of accounts being hacked is actually minuscule compared to the 100 million active iTunes accounts.