The internet frenzy is still ongoing over Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and a swath of other celebrities nude photos begin leaked online, and thousands begged the question on how the attack occurred.
While many believed there was a serious vulnerability in iCloud or some form of conspiracy regarding the photos, some claims may be put to rest. In a recent statement, Apple has confirmed the starlets iCloud accounts were hacked due to weak passwords, not a serious vulnerability in the system.
Apple said in their recent statement:
Update to Celebrity Photo Investigation
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.
While this does seem like a viable excuse, this does not dismiss the fact that one actress, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, caught in the leak stated on Twitter that she deleted the nude photos years ago.
While Apple’s recommendation for two-step verification may help prevent future attacks, the celebrities nude photos were circulating the black market weeks prior to their initial release.
While Apple did not name which of the 101 actresses iCloud accounts were hacked or ripped, there are still a number of other attack vectors that could have helped the hackers get away with the theft.
In Kate Upton’s leaked photos, a DropBox file was found, meaning DropBox may have been the vector for her attack. DropBox has not given any statements regarding the leaks but many questions are left unanswered.
Such as how actresses photos were stolen even though they were deleted years prior. Apple’s iCloud service is said to encrypt data during transmission and when stored. Alongside, synced photos are permanently deleted within thirty days they are removed from synced devices.
Hackers have not released any information on how the attacks were orchestrated, but the attacks appear to be precisely targeted. Speculation reads that attacks were ongoing for over seven months in total, meaning attackers were reaping these personal nude pictures from celebrities for months and not releasing any information. This also accredits hackers claims that they have over 101 actresses nude photos.
The exact methods hackers used to hack the celebrities cloud storage and reap the information is slightly answered, but from actresses claiming pictures were removed and other cloud storage providers begin vector for attack, the story remains questionable.