Apple Flooded with iCloud Password Reset Requests Amid Tightened Account Security Controls

icloud icon textIn a high-profile case last month, a hacker was able to gain access to Wired reporter Mat Honan's iCloud, Gmail, Twitter, and Amazon accounts, taking control of much of Honan's digital life and remote wiping his iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air. Honan later detailed how the hack was accomplished through social engineering by entering the system through weaknesses in Amazon's account security and then using credit card information stored there to gain access to Honan's iCloud account.

Following the incident, Apple temporarily halted over-the-phone iCloud password resets, which had required only the user's billing address and the last four digits of the credit card on file with the account. Apple has since rolled out new authentication for password resets, including a requirement that users provide two correct responses to a small group of challenges that includes user-set security questions, more detailed credit card information, and device confirmations via either serial number or pushed Find My iPhone verification codes.

We've heard from several Apple support employees who have noted that their abilities to help customers have been severely restricted as part of the effort to tighten up security, with staff only able to send password resets to email addresses on file with the account. Employees are no longer permitted to send password resets to arbitrary email addresses and can no longer set temporary passwords on accounts to enter troubleshooting mode during support calls.

icloud backup and restore
One employee we spoke with has detailed a tremendous influx in support calls with the release of iPhone 5, as customers looking to restore iCloud backups of their old phones onto their new phones are in some cases having difficulty remembering their passwords. Support calls are said to be up on the order of tenfold over the past week or so surrounding the iOS 6 and iPhone 5 launches.

I know what you are thinking. The rightful person that owns the Apple ID should have no problem doing enough of that to be able to verify their ID and be able to then reset their password or security questions or unlock their account. And you would be wrong in thinking that.

This employee has emphasized that if users can not confirm their identities within the new framework of authentication challenges, there is nothing Apple support staff can do to help them and they will be frozen out of their iCloud accounts. For this reason, the employee notes that users are strongly encouraged to know the exact answers to their security questions, make sure a proper credit card is associated with the account, and set up Find My iPhone/iPad/iPod, maximizing their chances of being able to regain access to their accounts should their passwords be lost.

Finally, this employee has cautioned users about both changing their password and resetting their security questions at the same time, particularly if they do not have a credit card on file with the account. In that instance, if the user is unable to get into their account with the reset password, the deleted security questions and the lack of a credit card will essentially make it impossible for Apple support to verify their identity and regain access to the account.

Top Rated Comments

DrFu79 Avatar
116 months ago
I have NO sympathy for people who lose their passwords, their security questions and their credit card id at the same time.
Sorry.
If you lose your passport, your birth certificate and your house keys at the same time, you are also in trouble - rightfully so. Identity theft is serious. :rolleyes:
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thefourthpope Avatar
116 months ago
1password keeps me sane
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
smileyborg Avatar
116 months ago
I think we've moved into an era where the traditional username and password combination for authentication is insufficient, both from a security and feasibility standpoint.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kas23 Avatar
116 months ago
I would hate to be an Apple employee working the phones right now. I just can't imagine how many stupid people must be calling. I know Mac users have been shown to have higher IQs, but I'm sure it's the opposite with iPhone users.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ChazUK Avatar
116 months ago
Last pass has me sorted. I'm slowly learning many of the generated passwords by using them regularly too.

Such a shame to see people stuck like this but due to the constant media scrutiny towards Apple, they're damned if they do and damned if they don't.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pubwvj Avatar
116 months ago
One more reason not to use iCloud.
Store Locally.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Flat 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature

Unreleased Apple Macs and Apple Watches Listed in Eurasian Database Ahead of Fall Product Launches

Monday August 2, 2021 9:34 am PDT by
Apple is preparing for a slew of fall product launches according to new filings that showed up today in the Eurasian Economic Commission database. There are listings for new Mac and Apple Watch models, all of which have previously unknown model identifiers that indicate that they're upcoming devices. There are six new Apple Watch identifiers, including A2473, A2474, A2475, A2476, A2477, and...
ifixit iphone12 mini

Apple to Make Space for Larger Batteries in iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks By Adopting Slimmer Peripheral Chips

Monday August 2, 2021 2:12 am PDT by
For future iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, Apple plans to use smaller internal components in an effort to increase the size of the device's battery, according to DigiTimes. Image Credit: iFixit Specifically, Apple plans to "significantly increase the adoption" of IPDs or integrated passive devices for the peripheral chips in its products. These news chips will be slimmer in size and allow for...
Apple watch series 5 new case material made of titanium 091019

Titanium Apple Watch Series 6 Models Currently Widely Unavailable

Sunday August 1, 2021 6:21 am PDT by
Models of the Apple Watch Series 6 with titanium cases part of the "Apple Watch Edition" collection is currently widely unavailable for pick-up in several of Apple's retail stores in the United States and is unavailable entirely for delivery in major markets. Noted by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, titanium models of the Apple Watch Series 6,...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
REC ASA CODE2016 20160601 205816 2745

Elon Musk Reportedly Demanded to Become Apple CEO as Part of Potential Tesla Acquisition [Update: Musk Denies]

Friday July 30, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly once demanded that he be made Apple CEO in a brief discussion of a potential acquisition with Apple's current CEO, Tim Cook. The claim comes in a new book titled "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century," as reviewed by The Los Angeles Times. According to the book, during a 2016 phone call between Musk and Cook that touched on the possibility of ...
iPhone 13 Wi Fi 6E feature update

Wi-Fi 6E Explained: What It Could Mean for iPhone 13 and Beyond

Monday August 2, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 is widely expected to come with Wi-Fi 6E capabilities, and while it may seem rather nuanced to the average consumer, with only improved speeds and being "up to date" in the realm of Wi-Fi technology, it's actually a fairly significant improvement, laying the groundwork for much of what we know the future holds. To truly understand Wi-Fi 6E, MacRumors sat down for an exclusive...
magic keyboard touch id

Apple Makes Magic Keyboard With Touch ID Available for Separate Purchase

Tuesday August 3, 2021 5:22 am PDT by
Apple has made the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, which previously was only available with the purchase of the new 24-inch iMac, available for purchase individually for $149. Apple also retails the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and a numeric keypad for $179. A standard Magic Keyboard without Touch ID or a numeric keypad is available for $99, and a new Magic Trackpad for $129. One major...
themorningshowcarrell

Apple Decided Not to Buy Reese Witherspoon's 'Hello Sunshine' Media Company

Monday August 2, 2021 2:02 pm PDT by
Reese Witherspoon's media company "Hello Sunshine" recently courted various buyers, and while Apple was one of parties interested in buying Hello Sunshine, the Cupertino company did not end up going through with the purchase. Hello Sunshine was valued at around $900 million thanks to its involvement in popular series like The Morning Show," "Big Little Lies," and "Little Fires Everywhere,"...
COVID19 Digital Wallet Apple Wallet

Australian Government Now Offering COVID-19 Digital Vaccination Certificates for Apple Wallet

Monday August 2, 2021 12:04 am PDT by
The Australian government has introduced support for adding COVID-19 vaccination digital certificates to Apple Wallet via the Express Plus Medicare app on iOS. Image credit: Tap Down Under As spotted by Tap Down Under, users who have received two doses of either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine now have access to the digital certificate through their Medicare online account or via the Medica...
mac pro new graphics

Apple Introduces New High-End Graphics Options for Mac Pro

Tuesday August 3, 2021 7:34 am PDT by
Apple today began offering new high-end graphics upgrade options for both the tower and rack versions of the Mac Pro desktop computer. This comes on the same day that Apple started selling the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID on a standalone basis. As noted by CNN Underscored's Jake Krol, the Mac Pro can now be configured with new AMD Radeon Pro W6800X, W6800X Duo, or W6900X graphics when...