Apple says its systems not to blame for celebrity photo breach

Tue Sep 2, 2014 6:21pm EDT
 
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By Edwin Chan and Christina Farr

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The week before a crucial launch of its new iPhone, Apple Inc said intimate photos of celebrities including Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence were leaked online through the apparent hacking of individual iCloud accounts.

Apple rushed to restore confidence in its systems' security, saying the celebrity photo scandal that also ensnared swimsuit model Kate Upton, actress Kirsten Dunst and possibly dozens more was the result of targeted attacks on accounts storing personal data and not a direct breach of Apple systems.

"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 in a statement.

"None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple's systems including iCloud or Find My iPhone."

The celebrity hacking that came to light over the long Labor Day weekend nevertheless ranks among the highest-profile public fiascos for Apple in recent years.

Apple's iCloud service allows users to store photos and other content and access it from any Apple device. Security in the cloud has been a paramount concern in past years, but that has not stopped the rapid adoption of services that offer reams of storage and management of data and content off smartphones and computers.

Regardless of how the leaking of nude celebrity photos actually happened, the timing could not have been worse for Apple as it prepares to launch a new iPhone next week.

It also underscored the longer-term risks for mobile users as smartphones increasingly become the repository for far more sensitive healthcare, banking and personal data.   Continued...

 
The Apple logo is pictured inside the newly opened Omotesando Apple store at a shopping district in Tokyo June 26, 2014.  Picture taken June 26. REUTERS/Yuya Shino