Apple privacy concerns raised

Ngoc Vo

Opinion Editor

The issue of Internet security was questioned after a recent nude photo scandal with Apple Inc.

Private photos of over 100 individuals were stolen and posted on an image-sharing forum on Aug. 31, according to The Guardian. Among the victims are various female celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton.

“This is a flagrant violation of privacy,” Lawrence’s spokesperson said.

Alana Cook, a junior psychology and criminal justice double major from Grove Hill, said the targeted celebrities could have done more to protect themselves. However, it is undeniable that they have been victimized and violated repeatedly by thousands of viewers.

“They are not at fault for having exercised their rights to be the subjects of such information and storing that information under a lock,” Cook said.

Apple’s iCloud and Find My iPhone services were suspected to have a security breach, posing potential vulnerabilities of which hackers can take advantage. These services allow hackers to run a script called iBrute, which repeatedly guesses user passwords until the correct one is recognized. Apple said it fixed the breach.

“We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report,” said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris to technology news site Re/code.

Apple’s press release on Sept. 2 claimed that the iCloud and Find My iPhone services were not responsible for the recent attack:
“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.”

Although this data theft is labeled as a “targeted attack,” anyone can be a victim. With the iBrute program, hackers can get into an account and retrieve photos and information if they have the user name.

However, this password guessing attack does not break into large numbers of accounts at the same time and steal data. Because hackers have to target an account specifically, celebrities are more likely to become victims.

“Hacking is always illegal,” said Susan Sarapin, assistant professor who has experience teaching and researching mass media law. “And the distribution of stolen intellectual property is not legal, I am sure. Redistributing (such material) is as much of a crime as the original distribution of it.”

Apple refers to a two-factor authentication process as a way to protect users’ accounts from such method. To log into an account with this process, users are required a numerical code and a regular password. Because the number constantly changes and is sent to the user’s phone or another device, it is more difficult for attackers to gain access to the account, even when they can guess at the password.

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