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Apple Launches Investigation Into Celebrity iCloud Hack

Twentieth Century Fox/AP

This weekend, a number of celebrities had their privacy invaded when a hacker obtained personal photographs from various digital devices, and began spreading them across the Internet. Among those affected were Ariana Grande, Aubrey Plaza, Bar Rafaeli, Jennifer Lawrence, Kaley Cuoco, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, Victoria Justice, and many more. While some of the photographs were perfectly innocent, though still private moments, many of the images were nude or were otherwise sexually explicit. The photographs were posted onto 4Chan and then Reddit, and began circulating from there.

It looks like an iCloud hack is to blame for many of these leaked photographs. Jennifer Lawrence's photographs, which were perhaps the most widely circulated from the batch, were all stolen from an iCloud account. Lawrence's spokesperson told the press, "This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence." 

Now, Apple is scrambling to do damage control. Apple told Re/code, "We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report." Github and CNet point to the "Find My iPhone" feature as the key culprit in this hack. This feature "could allow a brute force attack in which multiple, rapid-fire attempts are made to correctly guess an account's password," explains CNet. Apple allows an unlimited number of password attempts

While it is possible the hack was made possible by an Apple loophole, security experts believe that this could have been easily prevented with two-step verification, in which the user can only sign in with a password and a verification code sent to their phone, email, or a secondary device. With this security feature turned on, a hacker would need access to the secondary verification system, in addition to the password, to break into the iCloud camera roll.

If you aren't already using it, now is a great time to turn on two-step verification for all your Apple devices.

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