Apple, in the past, enjoyed a certain unearned status in terms of security. Viruses were few and far between for Apple products, and its mobile gear regularly went unhacked, beyond those efforts staged by the hardware owners themselves to get the devices to do more.
But a recent massive hacking staged on writer Mat Honan's computer suite – his PC, his iPad and his iPhone – as well as his e-mail account, Twitter feed and even Gizmodo's own Twitter feed, left him horrified.
Apple, on the other hand, is left reconsidering its own security standards.
The problem, at last report, stemmed from a feature Apple offers that allows users to reset a password via phone. To gain access to that feature, individuals need a name, address, e-mail and the last four digits of their credit card number.
With that information in hand, the password can be reset, and the account can be seized.
In Honan's case, he had a feature installed that allowed him to remotely wipe data on the hard drives of his hardware, should the devices be stolen. This normally prevents thieves from accessing personal data, but it was uniquely used as a weapon against Honan, wiping the data on hardware that was actually in his possession.
Perhaps the worst blow, according to Honan, is that many of his losses could have been prevented by instituting Google's two-pass identification option, a recently-installed feature that provides extra security on account access. It wouldn't have spared the losses on his Macbook, sadly – that was available to the hackers as soon as they hit iCloud by Honan's remarks – but it would have prevented the e-mail and Twitter losses.
Hacking these days is serious business. Keeping regular protection measures active on computers – antiviral systems, firewalls, etc. – and regularly updating said protection is vitally important, a point that PC users have had drilled into them for years.
Apple users, meanwhile, aren't quite so inculcated with this knowledge, and are starting to get it now.
The growing use of Apple devices, and especially on public Wi-Fi networks, is leading to more opportunities for hackers to bring their skills into play. The more devices emerge, the more targets of opportunity become available, and as such, the more Apple owners will find their devices falling prey to viruses and other intrusion methods.
Apple's reconsideration of its security policies bodes well for its users, who will also have to exercise their own vigilance in a bid to protect their hardware, and the sensitive data which it contains.
Edited by Braden Becker
Contributing TechZone360 Writer
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