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Leaked Celebrity Photos – Is Your Data Safe On iCloud?

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

In early September, the world of entertainment was turned upside down when nude and personal images of more than 100 celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Selena Gomez, Kate Upton, Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Kim Kardashian, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jessica Brown Findlay and Kirsten Dunst amongst others were leaked on the internet. In a second round of leaks, more compromising images of some of the above stars as well as those of Vanessa Hudgens and Hope Solo appeared on Reddit and some other websites. The leaked celebrity photos seemed to have been stolen from the stars’ iCloud accounts and now even FBI is looking into the matter to find the source of the leaks.

How The Celebrity Photos Were Stolen?

While Apple has maintained that iCloud security was not compromised, experts believe that a vulnerability in ‘Find My iPhone’ functionality that is available on iPhones could have helped hackers to steal the photos. Security experts point out that the appearance of the program iBrute on a software development website is testimony to that fact that ‘Find My iPhone’ feature was indeed used to steal data. The program allows hackers to gain access to another person’s iCloud account simply by trying out thousands of password combinations. While Apple has released a small fix for ‘Find My iPhone’ that limits the number of times the service can be used to find a missing device, there is no guarantee that more security breaches won’t occur in the future since nobody is 100% sure how the images were stolen in the first place.

How To Secure Your Photos On iCloud?

If you are an iCloud user who is worried about the security of his data and photos, there are number of ways to secure your account. First and foremost, you should use an extremely secure password for your Apple account that cannot be breached by dictionary or brute force attacks. Refrain from using personal data or common words in your password and make sure that it contains a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers as well as special characters. Even while choosing security questions, you should not use a question that could easily be answered by others including your family or friends.

Apart from using secure passwords, you should also enable 2-step verification. This will prevent others from accessing your iCloud account from another computer unless they also have access to your phone. Once you enable 2-step verification, you will have to enter the security code sent to you by SMS every time you want to log into your account. In addition, you should also keep your Apple recovery key handy to deal with situations like losing or dropping your iPhone.

For total security of your photos, you should disable the “My Photo Stream” feature that automatically transfers photos to your iCloud account. While the Photo Stream feature is indeed useful for automatic backup and syncing photos across multiple devices, it could also transfer potentially embarrassing photos to iCloud without your knowledge. To turn off “My Photo Stream” feature, check the iCloud options available within the Settings menu.

November 11, 2014

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