The latest celebrity scandal exposes mobile security

Apple is “actively investigating” hacking claims after naked pictures of Hollywood A-listers were leaked on Sunday.

lucy tesseras

The security of its iCloud service is at the centre of the scandal after hackers allegedly exploited weaknesses in the virtual storage system to gain access to the private accounts of stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian and Kirsten Dunst.

Although it has not been confirmed that the data breach is solely Apple’s responsibility, it was named by the perpetrator on image-sharing site 4chan.

Actress Dunst also alluded to the fact the iPhone maker was at fault by tweeting “Thank you iCloud” alongside emoticons of a slice of pizza and a turd to illustrate the phrase ‘piece of shit’.

It has been said that a vulnerability in the service’s ‘Find my phone’ feature could have allowed hackers to make repeated attempts to guess a target’s password without being deterred – an issue which has reportedly now been resolved – but either way it puts increased pressure on Apple to step up security measures.

Flagrant invasions of privacy like this highlight just how exposed we all could be and how easily our personal data and property could be accessed.

The fact it has happened to high-profile celebrities on this occasion makes it front-page news, bringing the issue to the fore much faster than if it had happened to a mere ‘civilian’, as Elizabeth Hurley once referred to the general public.

It’s also unlikely the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) would have stepped in quite as quickly and publicly had such prominent personalities not been involved, but the fact it has again illustrates just how serious a concern it really is.

Mobile security isn’t taken nearly as seriously as it should be considering we have as much – if not more – personal information and files stored on our phones than on any other technology.

There are of course measures that can be taken to increase security. Users can activate ‘two-step verification’ for Apple ID, for example, which is an additional security feature that allows users to confirm their identity using a registered trusted device, which means that even if someone knows your password they won’t be able to access your data.

Less helpful was the advice of one “cyber security expert”, who told the Metro newspaper that the simplest way to stop your naked photos being leaked was to “never ever take naked photos of yourself”. Or at the very least he suggested people keep their face and any distinguishing tattoos out of the frame.

Surely that isn’t the point. That’s like saying if you don’t want to become a victim of fraud you should never use your credit card online, or if you don’t want to get mugged you should never leave your home.

The fact is there will always be people out there looking to exploit certain situations and steal private information and property – sadly that will never change. What companies like Apple have to do is ensure they make it as difficult as possible for them to do so and empower consumers to do the same.

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