The Advanced Protection Kit (APK) is a type of file that contains a.pbk extension. Apple created this specific file type to help protect the proprietary information stored inside them. While most people use a password to protect their credit card numbers, birthdates, and social security numbers, Apple decided to go a step further and add a layer of security to their credit card processing system by using a specialized cryptographic key known as the Privacy Pass Code to scramble the data inside the APK file. When opened with a supported application on a Mac or iOS device, the user will see a progress bar as the app interacts with the Privacy Pass Code behind the scenes. When the bar is filled to the bottom, the user will be presented with a success message and permitted to enter their PIN to unlock the information.
Since the introduction of Apple Products with Apple Pay, people have been turning to them as a platform to process their credit cards. According to a recent survey conducted by Financial Phism, almost half of the respondents (46%) used Apple Products to process their credit cards. The most popular device was the iPhone (38%), followed by the iPad (28%), Mac (20%), and iMac (12%).
While most people have been utilizing Apple Products to process their credit cards, they haven’t always had the best experience. For example, several users reported issues with slow performance and slow app store performance on their iPhones after applying updates from the App Store. Some had to contact Apple Support to get their apps working again. For those who use multiple Apple Products, the issue is compounded due to the fact that they have to keep track of more than one set of unique Privacy Pass Codes.
Creating an APK File
To protect their sensitive information, Apple users create an APK file by using specialized software known as an unpacking tool. To create a new APK file, you’ll first need to log into your Apple Account on iCloud, click the Apps button, and then search for Advanced Protection Kit.
When the app loads, you’ll see a short tutorial on how to create an APK file. Just click on Create A New to continue to the main menu where you can select the directory in which you want to place the new file.
Since the APK file is a proprietary format developed by Apple, the only tool available for Mac and iOS users to unpack the file is Advanced Protection Kit. You can find the official Advanced Protection Kit website here. When launched on a Mac or iOS device, you’ll see a blue button at the bottom of the main window that provides access to the developer tools. Click this button to load the developer app.
After the developer app is launched, you’ll see a black screen with a progress bar at the top. Wait for the progress bar to load before you click on the Unpack APK button to continue to the main menu. When the button changes to Unpacking, wait for the process to complete.
You’ll now have a directory filled with all the APK files you unpacked from your phone or Mac. To continue, click on File and then select Open. You’ll then be presented with a file chooser where you can either navigate to your phone’s Downloads folder to preview the contents or open a specific file by clicking on it.
Extracting the Credit Card Data
To allow for future app updates and for the software to remain relevant, the developers of Easy APK have committed the ciphertext of Apple’s Privacy Pass Code to long-term storage on the device after unpacking the file. To access this data, you’ll need to connect the device to your computer and launch Apple Keychain Access. You’ll then see all the data imported from your phone.
Double-click on the Wallet to view the contents saved by Apple for this device. From here, you can click on any of the saved credit cards to view the associated payment information. You can also click on the Security Code next to any card to reveal the associated Privacy Pass Code. Finally, you can copy any of these codes to paste into the appropriate field to make a secure payment.
To remove a card from the Wallet, simply navigate to the Wallet, right-click on any card and choose Remove. You will then be prompted to enter the corresponding Privacy Pass Code to confirm the removal.
Using the Credit Card Data
Since the data saved by Apple in the Wallet is encrypted, it won’t be of much use to anybody else. Fortunately, the developers of Easy APK designed the app to make the credit card data accessible to anybody.
To do this, they integrated a Password Generator designed by Bitwarden into the app. When launched, you’ll see a progress bar similar to the one seen when launching the Advanced Protection Kit on your Mac or iOS device. Just click on Generate to continue to the main menu where you can enter your PIN to unlock the data. Enter the correct PIN and click on OK. You’ll then be presented with a success message and have access to the credit cards and associated information saved by Apple inside the Wallet.
To remove all the credit cards from the Wallet, navigate to the Wallet and click on the Clear button. You’ll then see a confirmation message stating all the cards have been removed.
To reimport the credit cards and associated Payment Information from the Wallet into the Wallet, navigate to the Wallet and click on the Import button. You’ll then be presented with a file chooser where you can either reimport the credit cards from your phone or choose to use the default location for storing all your payment instruments.
If you choose the latter, simply click on the Open button and the credit cards and associated data will be imported into the Wallet.
Protecting Your Credit Card Information
After creating an APK file with the sensitive information of your credit cards, the next step is to keep that information secure by using a PIN to access the card data whenever you need it. The best way to remember your PIN is to select a short and easy to type sequence that you can readily input into the Wallet when prompted.
To put it simply, an APK is a type of file that contains a.pbk extension. The extension is only slightly less creepy than the name itself – it’s derived from the phrase ‘Advanced Protection Kit‘. To open an APK file on a Mac or iOS device, you’ll need to use an unpacking tool. Once you have the file unpacked, you’ll need to use a Password Generator to access the credit card data inside. Finally, to protect this data, you’ll need to enter a PIN when prompted during the data importation or exportation process.