Is Your iCloud Account at Risk of Being Wiped?
Hackers are claiming to hold over 300 million iCloud accounts hostage, but Apple is denying the claim. Is your account actually at risk?
Published: Thursday, March 23rd 2017
News broke on Tuesday about a group of hackers, calling themselves the Turkish Crime Family, infiltrating Apple security. They claimed to access over 300 million Apple email accounts and were threatening to completely wipe user data. The group threatened to remotely access the accounts, and reset the accounts, wiping all data of all active users.
They have apparently given the company until 7 April 2017 to pay a ransom of $75 000 in any online currency including Bitcoin or Ethereum. They are also willing to accept $100 000 worth of iTunes gift cards.
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An online news and conversational site, Motherboard, broke the piece on Tuesday claiming that they had been contacted directly by the group. The group provided the site with screenshots of email strings between the group and the Apple security team. It also provided a YouTube video showing the group accessing an account of what seems to be an elderly woman and remotely deleting the contents.
An email from an unnamed Apple employee apparently requests the group to delete the video as it is attracting unnecessary attention.
"I just want my money and thought this would be an interesting report. A lot of Apple customers would be interested in reading and hearing it," one of the hackers told Motherboard.
Doubts have however been raised as the number of threatened accounts. The numbers jumped drastically to 627 million with additional hackers stepping forward with account credentials.
Apple Are Shifting The Blame
Apple refused to comment on the claims at first. They have since come back denying the hack to their systems. They have insisted that there are no breaches in their systems. It states that iCloud has remained impenetrable since its inception.
It has however shifted the blame to third party services. In a statement from an Apple Spokesperson, they claim to not be involved in the matter.
“There have not been any breaches in any of Apple's systems including iCloud and Apple ID," the spokesperson said. "The alleged list of email addresses and passwords appears to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services.
They have likened the gain of information to similar incidents that have affected companies like Yahoo.
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What Should You Do?
Apple is recommending that all iCloud users should choose new passwords and ensure that stronger passwords are used going forward. They are also prompting users to turn on the two-factor authentication to protect their accounts. It is unsure whether this is a “rather safe than sorry” strategy, or whether they are trying to protect the brand.
Either way, our recommendation is to protect your iCloud back-up. Change your password as soon possible in case the worst does happen.