A report on Thursday exposed a Chinese website that appears to be distributing pirated versions of iOS apps for free, with the system powered by Apple's own enterprise licensing technology.
First spotted by blog M.I.C. Gadget, Chinese website 7659.com allows iPhone and iPad owners to download and install popular iOS apps without going through the official App Store.
The website in question, 7659.com, is actually a Web portal of a desktop program called "KuaiYong," which poses as a bulk licensing authorization asset to distribute free software to users. The software first hit the Web in 2012, and the new site is supposedly meant to streamline app discovery and downloading by making titles accessible online instead of through a dedicated program. KuaiYong's desktop software is still needed to retrieve the pirated apps.
According to the publication, KuaiYong leverages Apple's enterprise app distribution system, which is intended to be used by corporations and institutions for the dissemination of internal apps to staff. The licensing protocol allows for basically unlimited app distribution once a developer provisioning profile has been granted by Apple. This tactic lets iPhone and iPad owners install pirated software without jailbreaking their device.
KuaiYong is essentially distributing one app, with one license, continuously to end users.
A follow-up report from VentureBeat took a closer look at the nefarious site and discovered KuaiYong, and by proxy 7659.com, appears to be owned by Beijing YouRanTianDi Technology Co Ltd.
According to the KuaiYong website, the service is being branded as a helper tool for Chinese users unfamiliar with Apple's App Store:
First of all, we would like to thank all Apple users around the world and your support for Kuaiyong.
Statistics have shown that a significant amount of Apple users are Chinese based. However, the fact is that in China, a large number of Apple users are not very familiar with the iTunes system and how to effectively manage it.
In order for Chinese Apple fans to download applications securely, Kuaiyong developed its own method of giving users access to thousands of free apps without having to jailbreak their devices. Kuaiyong offers detailed descriptions of apps, free app download trial, IOS device management and visual and audio file backup system. IOS system backup and recovery features will also be released in the very near future.
Our goal has always been about bringing Chinese Apple users with quick, convenient and pleasant IOS experience. Since the introduce of Kuaiyong, the proportion of jailbreak in China has declined dramatically from 60% to around 30%. Kuaiyong will hold on to this goal in the future and we would like to see more support for Apple as well as Kuaiyong.
As for 7659.com, its pirated wares are not accessible outside of China as the proxy software is not supported internationally, though a spoofed IP address allows for perusal of the website.
M.I.C. Gadget says the team behind the operation is readying an international iteration of the program, with an English version coming to Windows users sometime soon. Currently, the service claims to have five million users in China.
Apple has yet to comment on the matter, though it is expected that the company will attempt to shut down the site as soon as possible.