In a statement this afternoon, Apple provided an update for its ongoing investigation into the alleged iCloud hack that resulted in a massive leak of hundreds of revealing celebrity photos. The company says it has determined the scandal was not the result of a breach in iCloud or any subsequent services.
Instead, Apple says it 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.” The firm says it continues to work with law enforcement to help identify the attackers.
We wanted to provide an update to our investigation into the theft of photos of certain celebrities. When we learned of the theft, we were outraged and immediately mobilized Apple’s engineers to discover the source. Our customers’ privacy and security are of utmost importance to us. 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. 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.
To protect against this type of attack, we advise all users to always use a strong password and enable two-step verification. Both of these are addressed on our website at http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4232.
On Sunday, several photos showing prominent celebrities either nude or scantily clothed surfaced on the Internet. The trove is said to have originated on a 4chan forum, with someone claiming to have stolen them via an iCloud attack, and looking to trade them for Bitcoin and other forms of digital currency.
Apple said yesterday that it was investigating the situation, and it was reported that a recently-patched Find My iPhone vulnerability played a part in the attack, but those rumors were obviously put to bed today. A search is ongoing for the individual(s) responsible, but so far no arrests have been made.