Apple, still in damage-control mode after hackers earlier this week broke into several celebrities’ personal iPhone accounts and posted hundreds of nude photos of the actresses and other female stars online, said within the next two weeks it will start alerting iCloud users if suspicious activity is detected.
The world’s biggest technology company plans to begin sending email notifications to users if there’s a request to restore iCloud data to a new device — which was how hackers stole the private pics of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst and others. Apple’s new security measures were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The photo-hacking incident could harm Apple’s powerful brand image, coming one week before its biggest product launch of the year. At an event next Tuesday, the company is expected to launch next-generation iPhones with larger screen sizes, a wearable device (dubbed “iWatch” by industry wags) and a mobile-wallet payments system with major credit-card companies.
In its initial response to the hack, Apple acknowledged that the accounts of some celebrities were compromised in a “very targeted attack” on its services. But the company denied that its iCloud or Find My iPhone services had been breached. “When we learned of the theft, we were outraged and immediately mobilized Apple’s engineers to discover the source,” Apple said.
The breach occurred after hackers used brute-force password-cracking software to answer security questions for the celebs’ iCloud accounts to obtain their passwords, according to Apple. Additionally, in some cases, the stars were victimized by a phishing scam through which hackers obtained their usernames and passwords.
Currently, Apple alerts iCloud users about password change requests or if someone attempts to log in from a previously unregistered device, but not if there is a request to restore data from iCloud.
The FBI said it is investigating the matter, and Apple said it’s cooperating with law-enforcement officials to track down the hackers responsible for the attacks.
In the 24-hour period after the celebrity images hit peer-to-peer sites on Sunday, a file containing more than 400 of the stolen pictures had been downloaded more times than any pirated movie except “Godzilla,” according to research firm Excipio. On Monday, Sept. 1, “Godzilla” was downloaded by 538,820 users, while the hacked celebrity photos were accessed by 415,305 users, followed by the “The Fault in Our Stars” at 385,192 downloads.