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Digital Economy

Apple to boost iCloud security after nude photos scandal

US tech giant Apple is ramping up its iCloud defenses to keep hackers out of user accounts. The move follows a recent hack of Apple's online vault, from which nude photos of celebrities were stolen and posted on the web.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Friday that iPhone maker Apple was planning to alert users of its iCloud through email and push notifications when someone tries to change an account password.

The new iCloud security set-up was announced by Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook in an interview for the US business daily, and will include similar alerts in cases in which unauthorized persons try to restore iCloud data to a new device, or when a device logs into an account for the first time.

Noting that Apple would expand the use of what's called two-factor authentication, Cook told the WSJ had a responsibility to ratchet up security, adding: "That's not really an engineering thing."

On Tuesday, Apple admitted that hackers had attacked the iCloud accounts of a number of celebrities over the Labor Day weekend. The intruders used tactics such as correctly answering security questions to obtain passwords, or tricking victims into revealing user IDs and passwords with a method referred to as phishing. Among the accounts cracked was that of US film star Jennifer Lawrence, who later saw nude photos of her posted on the Internet.

"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 was quoted as saying by WSJ.

Under efforts to restore confidence in its systems' security, Apple wants to keep intruders away with a method called two-factor authentication. This requires a user trying to access an account to augment a password with something else such as a temporary code sent by text message to the account holder's mobile phone.

Security in cloud computing services has been major concern for technology firms. A number of recent security breaches, including one in which Russian hackers allegedly stole data of more than a billion Internet users, couldn't stop the rapid adoption of the online storage of data from smartphones and computers.

uhe/ng (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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