Apple’s automated system happened to shut down developers’ programs

On August 4, developer Charlie Monroe woke up to an inbox full of complaints that his various Mac programs had stopped working, reports 9 to 5 Mac. It turned out that his entire developer account with Apple had been suspended and his certificates revoked.

After a long wait to get hold of someone at Apple, Charlie Monroe managed to find out what the error was: An automated system at Apple had incorrectly flagged one of his programs as malicious software and had then as a security measure closed the entire account and withdrawn the certificates required for the programs to start.

Users discovered the error through a dialog box while trying to open the programs, which claimed that the programs would harm the Mac and should be thrown in the Trash.

Apple apologized for the mistake, but it took 24 hours for the company to correct it, and Charlie Monroe still had to sign his programs again when the certificates were restored. The error also affected the versions of his apps that are part of the subscription service Setapp. But oddly enough, the versions distributed through the Mac App Store continued to work.

How it comes about that Apple can let an automated system completely knock out a developer without any human first double checking that it really is malicious code, we have no answer yet. Apple also needs to answer why this system can shut down a developer’s program around the clock, while developer support that can fix the situation can only be reached during office hours in California.