When Pokémon Go was updated for Halloween last month, Niantic stealthily introduced a new anti-cheat measure for the location-based augmented reality game. The “app blacklist” feature would detect third-party injected code running on the device for unfair advantage, and warn the player to uninstall the malicious application in order to continue playing.
It has come to light now (via PokémonGoHub) that the latest iOS 11.1.1 update has apparently disabled the anti-cheat feature. Niantic was previously using a vulnerability (CVE-2017-13852) in the system to scan all installed applications on a device for suspicious activity. Since it has been plugged by Apple, Pokémon Go can no longer detect cheating players on iOS devices.
An issue was discovered in certain Apple products. iOS before 11.1 is affected. macOS before 10.13.1 is affected. tvOS before 11.1 is affected. watchOS before 4.1 is affected. The issue involves the “Kernel” component. It allows attackers to monitor arbitrary apps via a crafted app that accesses process information at a high rate.
The most common manner of cheating in Pokémon Go is when players use “spoofers” to trick the game into believe they are in a specific region. Such players would be residing in one country but be taking over the gyms in another.
Without the security measure, it is now up to Niantic to conjure another way of stopping the injection of unfair applications on mobile platforms. Even before the latest update from Apple, players had found other ways through which to bypass the anti-cheat feature on both iOS and Android.