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

In 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.


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

(View all)
Avatar
103 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)
Avatar
103 months ago
1password keeps me sane
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
103 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)
Avatar
103 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)
Avatar
103 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)
Avatar
103 months ago
One more reason not to use iCloud.
Store Locally.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple-Acquired Dark Sky Officially Shuts Down Android App

Saturday August 1, 2020 3:43 pm PDT by
Apple in March purchased weather app Dark Sky, and at that time, Dark Sky's developers said that the app's Android version would be discontinued on July 1, 2020. However, instead of shuttering the app on that date, the app's developers announced that the discontinuation would be delayed for another month. Now that it's August, Android users are no longer able to access the app, and...

Apple May Launch This Year's 'iPhone 12' Lineup in Two Stages, With 6.1-inch Models Debuting First

Monday August 3, 2020 3:14 am PDT by
Apple last week confirmed that its "‌iPhone‌ 12" launch will be delayed this year due to the ongoing global health crisis and restrictions on travel. Apple last year started selling iPhones in late September, but this year, Apple projects supply will be "available a few weeks later," suggesting a release sometime in October. We're expecting a total of four OLED iPhones in 5.4, 6.1, and...

Apple Announces New 27-Inch iMac With 10th-Gen Processors, Up to 128GB RAM, 1080p Webcam, True Tone, and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 8:07 am PDT by
Apple today announced a new 27-inch iMac with faster 10th-generation Intel Core processor options, next-generation AMD graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, a higher-resolution 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, a T2 chip, higher fidelity speakers, studio-quality microphones, and more. A breakdown of the new 27-inch iMac's features and specs:10th...

Apple Explains Why You Might See 'Not Charging' When a Mac is Plugged In

Monday August 3, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
If you have a Mac and have seen a "Not Charging" warning when plugging it in to power, Apple last week released a support document that explains why. Macs running macOS 10.15.5 or later have a Battery Health Management feature to preserve the life of the battery, and occasionally, the Battery Health Management option will cause the Mac to pause its charging for calibration purposes.Depending ...

Top Stories: Try the 5.4-Inch iPhone 12 Display Size, Blockbuster Earnings, Tim Cook at Antitrust Hearing

Saturday August 1, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
Another busy week of Apple news and rumors has wrapped up, with a lot of focus on Tim Cook's appearance at a Congressional antitrust hearing and a blockbuster earnings report. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We continued to hear rumors about the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup, including a rare admission from Apple that the lineup will launch "a few weeks later" than...

Unreleased iPod Touch with Mac Pro Glossy Black Finish Shared Online

Sunday August 2, 2020 11:32 am PDT by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today posted images of what seems to be a first-generation iPod Touch prototype with a 2013 Mac Pro-style glossy black finish. The Twitter user claims that the iPod Touch prototype pictured has "the same coating as the 2013 Mac Pro." Had the finish been selected for the final product, it also would have been similar to the metallic glossy black finish that...

Just How Small Will the 5.4-Inch iPhone 12 Screen Be? Try It Out for Yourself

Tuesday July 28, 2020 12:57 pm PDT by
As rumors of the iPhone 12 have continued to build over the past few months, the one model that has the most excitement around it is the smallest 5.4" model. The iPhone 12 is believed to be coming in 5.4", 6.7", and 6.1" sizes. Dummy models have shown how much smaller the 5.4" is compared to the rest of the iPhone lineup. The upcoming 5.4" iPhone falls in-between the size of the original...

Everything New in iOS 14 Beta 4: Apple TV Widget, Search Improvements, Exposure Notification API and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 11:14 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth developer betas of iOS and iPadOS 14 for testing purposes, tweaking and refining some of the features and design changes included in the update. Changes get smaller and less notable as the beta testing period goes on, but there are still some noteworthy new features in the fourth beta, which we've highlighted below. - Apple TV widget - There's a new Apple TV...

Microsoft to Stop Supporting Office 2016 for Mac in October

Monday August 3, 2020 12:21 pm PDT by
Microsoft's Office 2016 for Mac is set to reach its end of support date on October 13, 2020, and after that date, connecting to Office 365 services using the Office 2016 for Mac software will no longer be supported. Microsoft shared the detail in a support document from July highlighting which versions of Office will be supported for connecting to Office 365 services in the future.Connecting ...

Apple Shares Requirements for Default Third-Party Browser and Email Apps With Developers

Monday August 3, 2020 4:28 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 14 plans to allow users to set a third-party app as the default email or browser app on an iPhone or iPad, replacing the current Apple-made default apps Safari and Mail. Apple hasn't provided many details on the new feature to users, but as noted by MacStories' Federico Vittici, Apple has shared documentation with developers who want their apps to have the option to be set as a...