Well-connected blogger Mat Honan was hacked this weekend thanks to some clever social engineering, with hackers obtaining access to his iCloud and Twitter accounts to make his life miserable. Honan had his MacBook, iPhone and iPad remotely wiped from iCloud, while hackers posted racist and homophobic messages to his personal Twitter page and the associated Gizmodo feed that was linked to his account.
Apple has officially commented to Wired on the situation that arose, partially blaming itself but also noting that hackers did indeed gain personal information about Honan that otherwise should have remained private. We’ll side with Honan on this one, since these hackers were definitely using some creative thinking to steal the digital identity of the Wired — and formerly Gizmodo — writer.
Apple spokesperson Natalie Kerris told Wired, “Apple takes customer privacy seriously and requires multiple forms of verification before resetting an Apple ID password. In this particular case, the customer’s data was compromised by a person who had acquired personal information about the customer. In addition, we found that our own internal policies were not followed completely. We are reviewing all of our processes for resetting account passwords to ensure our customers’ data is protected.”
If anything, Honan’s incident reminds everyone that cloud computing is not absolutely secure despite the fact that you might have long alphanumeric passwords. Honan has realized that it was a mistake to have several of his online accounts daisy chained together, while noting that he is lucky that hackers did not use his personal information to obtain access to banking and financial services. On the other hand, the security systems of both Apple and Amazon can both be called into question and likely need to be given a facelift.