iCloud Hacker Goes to Trial – Is Apple Doing Enough to Protect Users?

A hacker charged with blackmailing Apple over an alleged iCloud breach appeared before Court in October, with a preliminary hearing to follow this month. The incident is the latest in a string of breaches that have affected Apple users – should the company be doing more to protect its customers?

Alleged iCloud Hacker Appears Before Court

The alleged hacker is Kerem Albayrak, a 21-year-old who worked as an IT professional. He claimed to have gained unauthorized access to roughly 319 million user accounts on iCloud, downloading information and carrying out a factory reset. In order to not leak or otherwise mess with the users, he demanded that Apple pay him over $175,000 – $174,000 in Bitcoin and another $1,100 to be paid in iTunes vouchers. The hacker even recorded himself while accessing the accounts and then uploaded the footage on YouTube as proof that he was serious about his allegations.

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The London-based analyst was swiftly tracked down and apprehended by authorities – and then he appeared before a UK Court, but he did not enter into a plea. Apart from blackmail, the IT analyst was also charged with two separate counts of a crime described as “unauthorized acts intending to hinder access to a computer”, before he was released on bail pending his hearing. This is hardly the only instance where Apple users have been targeted by hackers: the 2014 Celebgate scandal that was widely reported on at the time saw accounts of several people hacked, including celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, with personal photos leaked online.

Is Apple Doing Enough to Protect Mac and iPhone Users from Hackers?

The 2014 hacking scandal made waves and created backlash for Apple and its shortcomings when it comes to online security, with alleged hackers still being tracked down. Just in October 2018, a fifth perpetrator pleaded guilty with prosecutors suggesting he serve 34 months in prison. During the last couple of years, Apple has had a series of incidents reported. On January 9th, 2017 it was reported on theinquirer.net that macOS users were specifically targeted by a scam website associated with DDoS attacks. Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks are a popular hacker tool that also raises the issue of API security, as hackers can launch a DDoS on a web API in order to overwhelm it with connections and traffic, resulting in memory and capacity failures.

And, just last month, Apple was forced to issue an apology to Chinese users for failing to protect them adequately. After reports from mobile payments firms WeChat and Alipay that are active in China, Apple investigated instances where clients lost money over allegedly purchasing apps – when, in fact, they had not done so. It was concluded that they had fallen victim to a phishing scam, which was enabled by the fact that two-factor authentication was not turned on in their Apple IDs.

The series of attacks raises an important issue for Apple users: is the company doing enough to protect them? Ransomware and other hacker attacks have inflicted a lot of damage lately on a global scale and, while the Apple brand is still going strong, users need to know that their security is a priority.

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