iCloud Security Under Scrutiny After Celebrity Photo Hacking Incident

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Apple’s Cloud-based data storage product continues to take a hit in the wake of the celebrity photo hacking incident recently in the news. If you own an iPhone or iPad, you need to ask yourself this question: “Has my iCloud security been compromised?” The answer is multi-faceted, but you ultimately you are responsible for the documents — photos, spreadsheets, word processing files — that you store in the Cloud whether you use Dropbox, iCloud, or any one of the growing number of Cloud-based storage providers.

Given that the recent celebrity photo hacking scandal reveals what seems like an acute lack of security in the Cloud, it’s time to take a closer look at the current state of cyber-security in an increasingly Cloud-based environment.

Apple Takes Steps to Improve iCloud Security

In the wake of the bad publicity directed towards Apple and iCloud after the celebrity photo incident, Cupertino is taking steps towards improving the security of their Cloud storage service. With the pending announcement of the iPhone 6, new iPad models, and potentially the Apple Watch coming soon, the company can currently ill-afford one of its products being in the news for the wrong reasons. Granted, Apple still denies that iCloud played a role in the photo hacking scandal, saying the problem happened due to hackers targeting famous users’ passwords and security questions.

Even so, the company added an improved warning system to iCloud; now users will receive alerts and emails if the system detects that a user’s account is potentially compromised. In fact, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, remarked to the Wall Street Journal that these additional alerts were something that should have already been in place for iCloud users. Cook also noted that — according to his engineers — none of the hacked Apple IDs and passwords leaked from Apple’s own servers.

These new alerts are triggered whenever an iCloud password is about to be changed, iCloud data restore is attempted on a new device, or when a new device attempts to log in to an iCloud account. When a user receives one of these alerts, they have the option to change their password and/or alert Apple’s security team.

Given that Apple feels strongly that their iCloud servers weren’t at fault and remain secure, this places the onus on you as a user to pay close attention to the types of documents you are storing on the Cloud. Other technology experts agree with this take.

The Bottom Line: Know What You are Storing on the Cloud

Jeffrey Carr, CEO of Taia Global, commented on CNBC about the recent iCloud hacking, as reported in TechInsider. He echoes the need for consumers to be aware of what documents they are storing on Cloud services. Apple users gravitate towards their iDevices because of their relative ease of use, and as such, many aren’t aware of whether or not their important documents are stored locally, on iCloud, or a combination of both.

Carr feels that consumer-level users need to leverage portable storage devices, like thumb drives and/or external hard drive storage, for safe keeping of important documents and photos. Most importantly, never trust a Cloud-based storage service to remain secure enough for these valuable files. “Simply don’t put anything online, you cannot afford to lose or that you cannot afford to have stolen and you’ll be safe,” concludes Carr.

So the most important lesson learned from the celebrity photo hacking scandal, is you can’t trust that your Cloud-based data remains safe from hackers. You need to take the steps to ensure that you aren’t storing anything valuable or important in the Cloud, be they family photos or vital financial documents and data. Use an external hard drive or thumb drive for his information, while making sure more than one copy exists of any financial data.

Most importantly, use strong passwords to secure local computers, any wireless network at your house, as well as your online accounts — and make sure you change these passwords regularly. Ultimately, in this Cloud-based age, you are responsible for the security of your own data.

Photo Credit: Gamrcob

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