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Tim Cook: Apple to Add Security Alerts for iCloud Users, Broaden Two-Factor Authentication

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Apr 12, 2001
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Apple will add security alerts for iCloud users, broaden two-factor authentication and make a more aggressive effort to alert users about protecting their accounts, Apple CEO Tim Cook told the Wall Street Journal in his first interview since the recent hacking incident involving celebrities' iCloud accounts.
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 or restoring iCloud data.
Cook said the new notifications will begin in two weeks and will allow users to take action on potential hacking immediately, allowing them to either change the password to retake the account or alerting Apple's security team. Cook echoed Apple's previous press release on the hackings, stressing that the best prevention for future incidents are more human than technological.
"When I step back from this terrible scenario that happened and say what more could we have done, I think about the awareness piece," he said. "I think we have a responsibility to ratchet that up. That's not really an engineering thing."
Apple will also broaden use of its two-factor authentication system, allowing it to also cover access to iCloud accounts from mobile devices like iPad and iPhone. Cook said the majority of Apple's users don't use two-factor authentication, so the company is planning on aggressively getting its users to turn on the feature. Cook also mentioned that had the celebrities been using two-factor verification, the hackers would not have been able to guess their security questions.

Apple has previously explored expanding two-factor authentication to some iCloud services, but an official expansion of the feature had not yet been introduced.

Article Link: Tim Cook: Apple to Add Security Alerts for iCloud Users, Broaden Two-Factor Authentication
 

0xyMoron

macrumors 6502
Oct 5, 2012
433
3
California
They should have thought this ahead before the damage is already done.
This type of poor management of sensitive data reminds me of Microsoft, ie; Damage control policy, let the bad things happen then look for ways to prevent them from happening again.
 
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haruhiko

macrumors 603
Sep 29, 2009
5,229
3,194
So when the so called hacker is already restoring all the data to a phone or a forensic program all we get is an e-mail telling us "hey all your dumb selfies are being downloaded by an unknown person"?
 
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Solver

macrumors 65816
Jan 6, 2004
1,049
2,992
USA
On most internet security systems, if someone knows your account name and the correct answers to three security questions plus the birth date you set, they can change your password and access your account. That is unless you enable extra security like 2-step verification.

Sending a warning message for any device restore is a good step. However, it would would have only warned about the restore "hack" but not stopped it. 2-step verification does.
 
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CEmajr

macrumors 601
Dec 18, 2012
4,383
1,146
Charlotte, NC
Sounds like a typical case of users using weak passwords (which most users tend to do) and hackers using common words to guess them. Amazing that with all the attempted hacking and identity theft and such going around that people still refuse to use complex passwords and security features. Especially celebrities.
 
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wlossw

macrumors 65816
May 9, 2012
1,075
1,006
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
They need to halt the restore until you authorize the action either with trusted device or secure backup key... Notification after the fact, is of questionable value...
 
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Swazaloo

Cancelled
Jan 3, 2014
183
418
They should have thought this ahead before the damage is already done.
This type of poor management of sensitive data reminds me of Microsoft, ie; Damage control policy, let the bad things happen then look for ways to prevent them from happening again.

Yea and they should have thought about smoking being bad before millions of people died from it. What more do you want? They already have 2-step verification. The more alerts the better.
 
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nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,196
What about the people whose photos were stolen from non-Apple devices? After all, this recent leak is not an Apple story at all, it's a broad Internet and cloud story.

Tim should speak on this, and Apple should improve. The rest of the industry should too.
 
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trevorbsmith

macrumors member
Dec 17, 2007
36
2
So when the so called hacker is already restoring all the data to a phone or a forensic program all we get is an e-mail telling us "hey all your dumb selfies are being downloaded by an unknown person"?

Not if you enable 2-factor authentication. Then they will not be able to change your password, so they won't be able to get at your iCloud data.

Also, as the article said, Apple is also going to expand 2-factor authentication so, presumably, even if you know someone's password, you STILL won't be able to restore/slurp their iCloud backups without also having access to one of their trusted devices.

Most importantly, he points out that most of their customers CHOOSE not to use 2-factor authentication. (Which is THE CUSTOMER'S FAULT, not Apple's.) And they are going to start harassing customers to smarten up and use it.

There is nothing more Apple can do than that.
 
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bsforever

macrumors member
Dec 25, 2008
56
2
Glad that Tim Cook himself is speaking up and Apple is actually showing responsibility by making changes to security. Old Apple under Steve Jobs would stonewall for as long as possible, hoping that the story would go away.
 
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trevorbsmith

macrumors member
Dec 17, 2007
36
2
Sounds like a typical case of users using weak passwords (which most users tend to do) and hackers using common words to guess them. Amazing that with all the attempted hacking and identity theft and such going around that people still refuse to use complex passwords and security features. Especially celebrities.

That is not what happens generally.

Read the forums at AnonIB, where these "hacks" are frequent. They are just using public info to answer security questions to reset passwords so they can get access. They do not guess passwords.

Solution: enable 2-factor authentication.

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They need to halt the restore until you authorize the action either with trusted device or secure backup key... Notification after the fact, is of questionable value...

The article says they are expanding 2-factor auth. Presumably that means they are expanding it to prevent restores / slurping of data unless you have the password AND a trusted device.
 
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jlake02

macrumors 68020
Nov 2, 2008
2,259
1
L.A.
I want to set up 2 step authorization but can't remember my security question answers. (Well, I think I remember but it's not accepting them.) Apparently I don't have an emergency email with Apple so I have to call support. Thus, I keep putting it off. :(
 
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haruhiko

macrumors 603
Sep 29, 2009
5,229
3,194
Glad that Tim Cook himself is speaking up and Apple is actually showing responsibility by making changes to security. Old Apple under Steve Jobs would stonewall for as long as possible, hoping that the story would go away.

"You're using it wrong. We already have 2-step verification." :apple:
 
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trevorbsmith

macrumors member
Dec 17, 2007
36
2
Glad that Tim Cook himself is speaking up and Apple is actually showing responsibility by making changes to security. Old Apple under Steve Jobs would stonewall for as long as possible, hoping that the story would go away.

Tim Cook is a fantastic CEO this way. He has done a great job at saying "hey, we screwed up" when they have (and even if they haven't), and saying "hey, we agree, things could be better and we're going to make sure they are."
 
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AngerDanger

macrumors 603
Dec 9, 2008
5,049
24,747
Broaden two-factor authentication? Could this perhaps mean THREE-factor authentication?! That's 1.5x as many authentication factors!
 
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PocketSand11

macrumors 6502a
Jun 12, 2014
688
1
~/
2-step authentication? Just use a private key (a.k.a. password) that's strong. It's mathematically proven. Your own stupid fault if you make your password weak. Edit: And you shouldn't be able to reset it, at least not merely by answering a few security questions. Someone pointed this out to me, and it's a really big flaw.
 
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petsounds

macrumors 65816
Jun 30, 2007
1,483
497
They need to halt the restore until you authorize the action either with trusted device or secure backup key... Notification after the fact, is of questionable value...

I believe that's exactly what will happen if you have 2-factor auth turned on for your account and running iOS 8. 2fa will apply to iCloud backups in iOS 8.
 
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bsforever

macrumors member
Dec 25, 2008
56
2
They need to halt the restore until you authorize the action either with trusted device or secure backup key... Notification after the fact, is of questionable value...

good idea. a restore needs more than just a password, maybe add the one time 4-digit code on another device or the recovery key
 
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Sonmi451

Suspended
Aug 28, 2014
792
385
Tesla
Good to see Apple implementing tighter security and notifications for failed attempts. That should at least help out a little.
 
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christarp

macrumors 6502
Oct 29, 2013
457
507
So when the so called hacker is already restoring all the data to a phone or a forensic program all we get is an e-mail telling us "hey all your dumb selfies are being downloaded by an unknown person"?

What else can they do? Not have backups?
 
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Vanilla Face

macrumors 6502
Aug 11, 2013
470
150
They should have thought this ahead before the damage is already done.
This type of poor management of sensitive data reminds me of Microsoft, ie; Damage control policy, let the bad things happen then look for ways to prevent them from happening again.

They did think of this before the damage was done. A year and a half ago Apple released 2-step verification. Had those celebrities enabled 2-step verification, this wouldn't be an issue.

Everyone should have 2-step verification enabled, but especially people who are in the public's eye. Those people should be very security conscious. In addition, their PR reps and agents should have ensured security steps were taken. The blame is almost entirely on the celebrities, Apple offered them the tools necessary to protect their data.
 
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haruhiko

macrumors 603
Sep 29, 2009
5,229
3,194
Tim Cook is a fantastic CEO this way. He has done a great job at saying "hey, we screwed up" when they have (and even if they haven't), and saying "hey, we agree, things could be better and we're going to make sure they are."

Apple is in really good shape now and we can gradually seeing Tim Cook to steer the giant ship Apple towards better directions, waking up from the chaos (if we could call that) in 2011-2012 after Steve Job's death.
 
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