Apple pulls iOS 9 ad-blocking apps over privacy threat

Apple has removed a handful of ad-blocking apps for iOS 9 from its App Store over concerns about privacy and potential security breaches. The apps removed were ones that installed root certificates, potentially allowing third-parties to view users' encrypted traffic. This, in turn, could lead to man-in-the-middle attacks, leading to spying or malicious code being injected without users' knowledge. It seems the removed apps' developers may not have had malicious intentions, as Apple has said it's working to have the apps make a return.

The ad-blockers that were removed were those that could not only block ads in the Safari browser, but in other apps as well. Among those was the app Been Choice, which installed a root certificate in order to block ads in other apps. This allows not only the app's developer to have access to users' data, but potential hackers as well.

Apple provided a statement to iMore, explaining the apps' removal over security concerns:

Apple is deeply committed to protecting customer privacy and security. We've removed a few apps from the App Store that install root certificates which enable the monitoring of customer network data that can in turn be used to compromise SSL/TLS security solutions. We are working closely with these developers to quickly get their apps back on the App Store, while ensuring customer privacy and security is not at risk.

Apple added that instructions were on the way for users to delete the apps from their devices. The developers of Been Choice have said they plan to resubmit their app after making the necessary changes. Seeing as how ad-blocking was set-up in iOS 9 specifically just for blocking content in Safari, and not other apps, it seems likely that any returning apps will not be able offer the latter among their features.