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Apple Says Nude Celebrity Photo Leaks Were Targeted Hacks

Maintains that its cloud is secure

Photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence leaked online. Photo: Getty Images

Apple's cloud is safe, the company has said in response to claims that a security flaw in its photo-storing software allowed hackers to grab naked images from celebrities' personal accounts.

It appears that the widespread hacking was targeted work aimed just at celebs whose accounts were compromised using common tactics rather than a general security hole.

Apple is investigating the mysterious leak of photos and videos of celebs—including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton—because many of the images that circulated online this weekend came from Apple devices or were uploaded to Apple's iCloud, the service that lets people store files remotely and access them anywhere.

The leaked images caused an Internet stampede to sites like 4Chan, where the first photos were posted. Users at Reddit were creating forums devoted to sharing the photos.

It had been theorized that Apple services had security flaws that enterprising hackers exploited. Instead, Apple now says its systems were secure, but the celebrities were targeted individually by hackers who obtained their online information and used it to access their accounts.

"We have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet," Apple said in a statement regarding the incident.

It seems there's an entire online community operating in the shadows of the Web where hackers offer their services to infiltrate celebrity accounts, using all the publicly known information about them to guess at usernames and security questions. There are forums where people hire the hackers to steal photos and the illicit celebrity images are often traded online.

Instead of a massive leak at Apple or some other Internet giant in charge of safeguarding personal information, these individual accounts were likely compromised with the right combination of user information—account names and passwords.

The question of security threatened to overshadow Apple's next big launch—for the next-generation iPhone next week. Some of the potential services that will be highlighted include new payment features. Some Apple watchers feared that a security hole could scare off users who would need to share sensitive banking information.

Still, Apple's stock has been at all-time highs and continued to rise today in anticipation of the launch and maybe even an iWatch.

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