updated 06:30 pm EST, Fri March 8, 2013
Lack of store-wide encrypted connection could have been exploited
After first being alerted to the potential problem last summer, Apple has addressed a potential security issue with connections to the App Store and is now encrypting active content over HTTPS by default as of late last month. A Google security researcher pointed out the potential for an attack in July, noting that a malicious network attacker could conceivably field user passwords, scan the apps on a user's device or even trick users into downloading fake upgrades or prevent an app from installing.
Apple patched the issue on February 23 and acknowledged Google's Elie Bursztein along with two others for finding the vulnerability. No known exploits of the issue have been uncovered, but the fix closes the possibility of any future abuse. Bursztein posted some videos (seen below) on how the attack might have worked, along with technical details of the methodology shortly before Apple updated its servers to use HTTPS for certain connections.
The company has periodically beefed up security for the App Store, for example now requiring users to answer security questions when they log into the store from a new device. As noted by AppleInsider, the company also plugged issues that saw incidents of account fraud back in 2009 and 2010 that caused some users to be erroneously charged for hundreds of dollars in purchases made with fake or stolen credit cards.