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iTunes Corrupting App Installs, Fairplay DRM Could Be the Cause

by on05 July 2012 3807 times
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When this one first hit we did not jump into the mix with the rest of the sites pushing a statement that Apple’s servers were corrupting new versions of apps pushed up to the iTunes App Store. Now, things are a little different as Apple has acknowledged the issue and is working on a fix. The issue seems to revolve around an update to Apple’s DRM software Fairplay.

The first person to see the issue was Marco Arment the creator of Instapaper. He noted several complaints from customers that the new update (updated on July 4th to version 4.2.3) of the Instapaper app was crashing back to springboard right after launch. There was no error code, just a brief black window and that was it. Arment tested it out himself and saw the same thing, yet Apple had no issues during their testing and approval and his Xcode copy worked without issue. There was something that was not quite right.

After doing some digging around he found that the issue was not related just to Instapaper, but to a few other Apple Apps as well. He outlined the issue pretty clearly on his blog.

The app crashes immediately on launch, every time, even after a delete and reinstall as long as the corrupt file is being served by the App Store.

It doesn’t even show the Default.png before crashing. Just a split-second of a partial fade to black, then back to Springboard.

It may only affect customers in some regions.

If updating from iTunes, some customers might get a dialog citing error 8324 or 8326.

Mac apps might show this dialog:
“[App] is damaged and can’t be opened. Delete [App] and download it again from the App Store.”

The console might show:AppleFairplayTextCrypterSession::fairplayOpen() failed, error -42110

After contacting Apple about it he did note that people were able to update or install the app without issue so it appears that Apple corrected the issue for at least that Binary. However issues remained with other apps and for people that had already downloaded and installed a corrupted app the only recourse was to uninstall and try again.

As of this writing there is a list of 114 apps that are showing the same signs as Instapaper was. It looks like whatever Apple did on July 2nd it has corrupted any apps that were sent to their iTunes Servers including both new applications and updates posted to existing applications. As of right now at least Apple has admitted the problem and is working on a fix.

We would guess that this was an update to their DRM engine that has (for whatever reason) failed to tag new and updated apps in the store. Because of this iOS and iTunes are seeing them as invalid or pirated in some way and preventing them from loading. It could be something to try and prevent the wide scale us of “cracked” apps that have been used with Jailbroken phones, but we are not certain of this. Right now all Apple users (iPhone, iPad, iPod and OSX) that rely on the iTunes store can do is wait. This goes for the people that develop the apps too, as it seems that if you uploaded a copy of your app since the 2nd of July you will have to upload it all over again once this is fixed.

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Last modified on 05 July 2012
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