After hundreds of private nude photographs were stolen from celebrities’ phones and then posted to the Internet without any of their consent, many theorized that this security breach pointed out a huge flaw in cloud-based storage systems like Apple’s iCloud. Today Apple acknowledged that while these celebrity accounts had been accessed through them, their iCloud system was not technically breached in any way.
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.
Apple urges its users to strengthen their passwords and enable two-step verification for their accounts (instructions for both can be found at Apple Support), and notes that they are working with the law enforcement to track down the person responsible for the hacking.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, the FBI also notes that they are “aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter,” but that “any further comment would be inappropriate at this time.”
Obviously the men and women who were targeted this weekend were not responsible for the theft and proliferation of their own private photos, and those who are responsible should face strong repercussions; furthermore, we obviously need to continue pointing out the cultural factors that lead people to commodify and humiliate women (particularly famous ones) for their bodies and/or sexual desires in the first place. But in the meantime, if all this talk of hacking has made you uncomfortable using iCloud at all, you can also learn to disable your photo stream completely over at Forbes.