Apple vows to beef up iCloud security after celebrity nude photo hack

Tim Cook: "I think about the awareness piece. I think we have a responsibility to ratchet that up"

By Sarah Gray

Published September 5, 2014 5:32PM (EDT)

      (AP/Alastair Grant)
(AP/Alastair Grant)

Apple announced that it is ramping up iCloud security, following the theft of many celebrities' personal information from the cloud -- including nude images, which were disseminated on the Web over Labor Day weekend.

The company did not give full details of the new security measures, but CEO Tim Cook told the Wall Street Journal that Apple will increase the use of "two-factor authentication." This security feature, which requires multiple steps and codes to access information, can already be used, but many users do not activate this setting.

The company also announced that in the next two weeks users will receive notifications when somebody tries to "restore iCloud data" on a new device. The Wall Street Journal explains:

"To make such leaks less likely, Mr. Cook said Apple will alert users via email and push notifications when someone tries to change an account password, restore iCloud data to a new device, or when a device logs into an account for the first time.

"Until now, users got an email when someone tried to change a password or log in for the first time from an unknown Apple device; there were no notifications for restoring iCloud data."

These updates -- the use of "two-factor authentication," and new alert -- don't actually do much to protect information, if all security measures are breaches. Users will be alerted, but will not be protected from theft. The onus is still for the most part on users to create a strong password and enable "two-factor authentication."

Apple, however, does recognize its part in educating folks about these security measures, which are not drilled into the minds of users, as much as the latest iPhone features. (Something that all major tech companies can learn from.)

"When I step back from this terrible scenario that happened and say what more could we have done, I think about the awareness piece," Cook told the Wall Street Journal. "I think we have a responsibility to ratchet that up. That's not really an engineering thing."

Earlier this week, Apple denied that hacking and theft of the photos was due to a breach in iCloud security, and called it "a very targeted attack."

Regardless, Cook was clearly upset by the attack on users' privacy, stating, "We want to do everything we can do to protect our customers, because we are as outraged if not more so than they are."

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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Apple Icloud Jennifer Lawrence Nude Photos Tim Cook