iCloud Hacked, Celebrity Intimate Photos Leaked

Ian Simpson, Reuters:

Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence has contacted authorities to investigate who stole and posted nude images of her online, a spokeswoman said on Monday, part of a reported mass hacking of celebrities’ intimate photos.

According to multiple reports images of celebrities such as Kate Upton, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Avril Lavigne, Lea Michele, McKayla Maroney, Lady Sybil, Brie Larson, Kirsten Dunst, Becca Tobin, Jessica Brown Findlay, Hope Solo, Teresa Palmer, Kristen Ritter, and Yvonne Strahovski were stolen and leaked unto forums.


We wanted to provide an update to our investigation into the theft of photos of certain celebrities. When we learned of the theft, we were outraged and immediately mobilized Apple’s engineers to discover the source. Our customers’ privacy and security are of utmost importance to us. After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet. None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud® or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved.

To protect against this type of attack, we advise all users to always use a strong password and enable two-step verification. Both of these are addressed on our website at http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4232.

Apple should admit it is all too easy for someone to hack into another’s iCloud account using social engineering tactics. Apple should also make a more robust authentication method — two-step verification — the default. Sam Biddle, Gawker:

This statement, which probably had several thousand pairs of lawyer eyeballs on it before it was sent to the press, is slippery. It hinges on very particular readings of words like “breach.” Apple insists its iCloud service—which it touts as a seamless way of backing up your entire digital existence—was not “breached.” This is maybe true in the sense that the celebrity nude traders didn’t break or manipulate Apple code, but false and horribly misleading in the sense that they easily gamed Apple’s system. And as Mat Honan will tell you, it’s been that easy to get around for well over two years.

Two years ago Mat Honan’s digital life was destroyed using similar tactics. Two-step verification (or authentication) isn’t foolproof, but it makes social engineering-based hacking much more difficult. I highly recommend it.