APPLE RAMPS UP iCLOUD DEFENSE AGAINST HACKERS - REPORT 

Apple is ramping up iCloud defenses in the aftermath of hackers swiping nude photos
of celebrities from the online digital vault, the Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday. The Journal quoted Apple chief executive Tim Cook as saying iCloud accounts of film stars including Jennifer Lawrence were looted by hackers who used tactics such as correctly answering security questions to obtain passwords, or tricking victims into revealing user IDs and passwords with ruses referred to as “phishing” scams. In coming weeks, Apple will start sending people alerts when attempts are made to change passwords, restore iCloud data to new devices, or when someone logs in for the first time from a new Apple gadget, the Journal reported. Tools will be in place for legitimate users of accounts to seize back control. Cook was quoted as saying that Apple also wants to make people more savvy when it comes to guarding against hackers with strong passwords and other techniques. “When I step back from this terrible scenario that happened and say what more could we have done, I think about the awareness piece,” Cook was quoted as saying. “I think we have a responsibility to ratchet that up. That’s not really an engineering thing.” *READ  MORE...

ALSO: Photo ‘hack’ on nude Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, other stars probed 

The FBI and Apple were urgently investigating Monday after an apparent massive hack
of a cloud data service unleashed a torrent of intimate pictures of dozens of celebrities across the Internet. Anonymous posters to online message boards boasted of having nude images of scores of female stars including Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence (photo)  and top model Kate Upton. Reports suggested hackers had “ripped” private images from Apple’s iCloud online data storage, a potentially embarrassing — and damaging — breach for the California tech giant. “We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report,” said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris, the Re/code website reported. The FBI has also joined the hunt, other US reports said.

“The FBI is aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter,” The Los Angeles Times quoted Laura Eimiller, spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles, as saying. “Any further comment would be inappropriate at this time,” she added. Some of the pictures had previously been circulated on message forums, and others appeared fake, but some major stars expressed outrage and threatened legal action. “This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence,” Lawrence’s agent told entertainment media. Upton’s lawyer, Lawrence Shore, told Us Magazine: “We intend to pursue anyone disseminating or duplicating these images to the fullest extent possible.” By late Sunday, Twitter had begun suspending accounts that linked to the Lawrence photos, tech news site Mashable reported. Among the scores of celebrities whose pictures were allegedly stolen were singer Avril Lavigne, actress Hayden Panettiere and United States soccer star Hope Solo.

ALSO CLICK AND READ RELATED STORY: EXPECT MORE MALICIOUS EXPLOITS

EXCERPT: More than 200 private pictures of female celebrities were leaked on the Internet on August 31 after a hacker allegedly breached Apple iCloud accounts. Trend Micro said that there were several ways the hacker could have obtained the private photos of the celebrities: through fake emails asking for Apple ID usernames and passwords (also known as phising), weak and easy-to-guess passwords, or reusing passwords on different accounts. “A targeted phishing email was convincing enough to entice the users to provide their credentials. TrendLabs has seen several phishing attacks in the past that target Apple IDs,” Oliveria said. “It’s also likely that celebrities have weak, easy-to-guess passwords such that the hacker simply spent their time and resources to work them out. It’s also possible that the hacker already has the email address tied to the iCloud accounts and simply used the “forgot password” option to reset passwords,” he said. Various celebrities, including award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, have called for an investigation into how the hacker breached their accounts. Apple has also said they would look into the security of their iCloud service........


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS:

Apple ramps up iCloud defense against hackers–report
 


In this Monday, June 6, 2014 file photo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs talks about iCloud at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. The circulation of nude photographs stolen from celebrities’ online accounts has thrown a spotlight on the security of cloud computing, a system used by a growing number of Americans to store personal information over the Internet. On Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014 Apple acknowledged the security breakdown and blamed it on intruders who were able to figure out usernames and passwords and bypass other safeguards. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

SAN FRANCISCO, SEPTEMBER 8, 2014 (INQUIRER) Agence France-PressePOSTED September 5th — Apple is ramping up iCloud defenses in the aftermath of hackers swiping nude photos of celebrities from the online digital vault, the Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday.

The Journal quoted Apple chief executive Tim Cook as saying iCloud accounts of film stars including Jennifer Lawrence were looted by hackers who used tactics such as correctly answering security questions to obtain passwords, or tricking victims into revealing user IDs and passwords with ruses referred to as “phishing” scams.

In coming weeks, Apple will start sending people alerts when attempts are made to change passwords, restore iCloud data to new devices, or when someone logs in for the first time from a new Apple gadget, the Journal reported.

Tools will be in place for legitimate users of accounts to seize back control. Cook was quoted as saying that Apple also wants to make people more savvy when it comes to guarding against hackers with strong passwords and other techniques.

“When I step back from this terrible scenario that happened and say what more could we have done, I think about the awareness piece,” Cook was quoted as saying.

“I think we have a responsibility to ratchet that up. That’s not really an engineering thing.”

* Apple will expand the use of “two-factor authentication,” which requires someone trying to access an account to augment a password with something else such as a temporary code sent by text message to the account holder’s mobile phone.

Apple said Tuesday a “targeted attack” led to the release of nude photos of celebrities including Oscar winner Lawrence but insisted there was no breach of its cloud storage system.

The admission came as experts and lawyers said the hack was a wake-up call about the dangers posed by technology to people’s privacy, whether they are stars or not.

“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,” Apple said.

“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.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed it was investigating.

Photo ‘hack’ on nude Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, other stars probed Agence France-PresseSeptember 2, 2014 | 11:19 am


Jennifer Lawrence. AP FILE PHOTO

LOS ANGELES — The FBI and Apple were urgently investigating Monday after an apparent massive hack of a cloud data service unleashed a torrent of intimate pictures of dozens of celebrities across the Internet.

Anonymous posters to online message boards boasted of having nude images of scores of female stars including Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence and top model Kate Upton.

Reports suggested hackers had “ripped” private images from Apple’s iCloud online data storage, a potentially embarrassing — and damaging — breach for the California tech giant.

“We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report,” said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris, the Re/code website reported.

The FBI has also joined the hunt, other US reports said.

“The FBI is aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter,” The Los Angeles Times quoted Laura Eimiller, spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles, as saying.

“Any further comment would be inappropriate at this time,” she added.

Some of the pictures had previously been circulated on message forums, and others appeared fake, but some major stars expressed outrage and threatened legal action.

“This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence,” Lawrence’s agent told entertainment media.

Upton’s lawyer, Lawrence Shore, told Us Magazine: “We intend to pursue anyone disseminating or duplicating these images to the fullest extent possible.”

By late Sunday, Twitter had begun suspending accounts that linked to the Lawrence photos, tech news site Mashable reported.

Among the scores of celebrities whose pictures were allegedly stolen were singer Avril Lavigne, actress Hayden Panettiere and United States soccer star Hope Solo.

* Former Nickelodeon star and singer Victoria Justice said the images claiming to show her nude were anything but the real deal.

“These so called nudes of me are FAKE people. Let me nip this in the bud right now. *pun intended*” she tweeted.

A spokesperson for actress and pop star Ariana Grande told BuzzFeed that images said to be of her are “completely fake.”

‘Creepy effort’

But horror movie actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead confirmed that some of her private pictures were in circulation and condemned those who stole them and who circulated them.

“To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves,” she tweeted.

“Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this. Feeling for everyone who got hacked.”

The scale of the breach became apparent on Sunday when users of the 4chan message board, a diverse online community that has been criticized in the past for misogyny, began sharing pictures.

Some more mainstream news and entertainment sites took up the story — and some linked to the images before taking them down amid legal threats and public outrage.

According to a report on news and gossip site Gawker, users of a AnonIB – an anonymous photo-sharing platform — have been boasting of a hack since last week.

Some users, hiding behind pseudonyms, made an apparent attempt to sell the pictures or to trade them with fellow hackers for others.

Security hole?

Tech news site The Next Web reported what it said was evidence that hackers had found a weakness in Apple’s “Find my iPhone” service, an app that tracks lost or stolen handsets.

Apple has patched the alleged hole, the report said, but not before news of it spread in the hacker community, perhaps allowing unscrupulous strangers to access private online data.

But other reports suggested that the pictures could have been collated from multiple sources, perhaps not including iCloud at all, and may have been gathered over several years.

News site Deadspin said it had been contacted in early August by a source claiming he had been offered the pictures for sale.

The scale of the hack, and the targeting of women in the public eye, quickly revived the debate on social media about privacy concerns and about misogyny on the Internet.

The scandal also posed a public relations challenge to tech companies, who have been marketing online storage like iCloud, DropBox or GoogleDrive as a safe haven for users’ private data.

Several popular tech blogs marked the story by providing advice on storing private data safely, by using advanced encryption and two-step password identification or by keeping it offline.

RELATED STORY: EXPECT MORE MALICIOUS EXPLOITS

Expect more ‘malicious’ activities that exploit nude photo hacking, warns expert
 


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