Game Boy Advance emulator for iPhone sneaks out. So much for App Store security

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
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Game boyAccording to Cult of Mac, someone has managed to sneak a (possibly) copyright-infringing Nintendo Game Boy Advance (GBA) emulator into the iOS App Store.

A $1.99 app called “Earthquake 7” is said to have made it into the App Store, promising to share the latest earthquake news.

But click on its search bar and enter the following words:

gba activate 638

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and you will be able to load any GBA ROMs that you have lying around on your iPhone.

Cult of Mac story

I went hunting for the app to give it a try, but wasn’t able to find it. Maybe Apple has already withdrawn the app in light of the media attention.

But one thing is clear – if app developers are able to sneak an emulator into their iPhone apps, they could also (potentially) smuggle in malicious code designed to exploit your shiny Apple gadget.

The vast majority of the smartphone malware problem is happening on the Android platform, and Apple generally does a much better job of vetting the apps it makes available than Google.

But that doesn’t mean that Apple is somehow immune from potential threats, as Mario, Yoshi and Princess Peach should be able to tell you.


Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

One comment on “Game Boy Advance emulator for iPhone sneaks out. So much for App Store security”

  1. Jeremy

    Still online Graham: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/earthquake-7/id713526889?

    It's just a whitehat hacker having some fun by exploiting the Apple flaws. :D

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