Tim Cook: Apple to Add Security Alerts for iCloud Users, Broaden Two-Factor Authentication

icloud_icon_blueApple will add security alerts for iCloud users, broaden two-factor authentication and make a more aggressive effort to alert users about protecting their accounts, Apple CEO Tim Cook told the Wall Street Journal in his first interview since the recent hacking incident involving celebrities' iCloud accounts.

To make such leaks less likely, Mr. Cook said Apple will alert users via email and push notifications when someone tries to change an account password, restore iCloud data to a new device, or when a device logs into an account for the first time. Until now, users got an email when someone tried to change a password or log in for the first time from an unknown Apple device; there were no notifications for or restoring iCloud data.

Cook said the new notifications will begin in two weeks and will allow users to take action on potential hacking immediately, allowing them to either change the password to retake the account or alerting Apple's security team. Cook echoed Apple's previous press release on the hackings, stressing that the best prevention for future incidents are more human than technological.

"When I step back from this terrible scenario that happened and say what more could we have done, I think about the awareness piece," he said. "I think we have a responsibility to ratchet that up. That's not really an engineering thing."

Apple will also broaden use of its two-factor authentication system, allowing it to also cover access to iCloud accounts from mobile devices like iPad and iPhone. Cook said the majority of Apple's users don't use two-factor authentication, so the company is planning on aggressively getting its users to turn on the feature. Cook also mentioned that had the celebrities been using two-factor verification, the hackers would not have been able to guess their security questions.

Apple has previously explored expanding two-factor authentication to some iCloud services, but an official expansion of the feature had not yet been introduced.

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Top Rated Comments

Swazaloo Avatar
127 months ago
They should have thought this ahead before the damage is already done.
This type of poor management of sensitive data reminds me of Microsoft, ie; Damage control policy, let the bad things happen then look for ways to prevent them from happening again.

Yea and they should have thought about smoking being bad before millions of people died from it. What more do you want? They already have 2-step verification. The more alerts the better.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CEmajr Avatar
127 months ago
Sounds like a typical case of users using weak passwords (which most users tend to do) and hackers using common words to guess them. Amazing that with all the attempted hacking and identity theft and such going around that people still refuse to use complex passwords and security features. Especially celebrities.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
trevorbsmith Avatar
127 months ago
Glad that Tim Cook himself is speaking up and Apple is actually showing responsibility by making changes to security. Old Apple under Steve Jobs would stonewall for as long as possible, hoping that the story would go away.

Tim Cook is a fantastic CEO this way. He has done a great job at saying "hey, we screwed up" when they have (and even if they haven't), and saying "hey, we agree, things could be better and we're going to make sure they are."
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
0xyMoron Avatar
127 months ago
They should have thought this ahead before the damage is already done.
This type of poor management of sensitive data reminds me of Microsoft, ie; Damage control policy, let the bad things happen then look for ways to prevent them from happening again.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
trevorbsmith Avatar
127 months ago
So when the so called hacker is already restoring all the data to a phone or a forensic program all we get is an e-mail telling us "hey all your dumb selfies are being downloaded by an unknown person"?

Not if you enable 2-factor authentication. Then they will not be able to change your password, so they won't be able to get at your iCloud data.

Also, as the article said, Apple is also going to expand 2-factor authentication so, presumably, even if you know someone's password, you STILL won't be able to restore/slurp their iCloud backups without also having access to one of their trusted devices.

Most importantly, he points out that most of their customers CHOOSE not to use 2-factor authentication. (Which is THE CUSTOMER'S FAULT, not Apple's.) And they are going to start harassing customers to smarten up and use it.

There is nothing more Apple can do than that.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
wlossw Avatar
127 months ago
They need to halt the restore until you authorize the action either with trusted device or secure backup key... Notification after the fact, is of questionable value...
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)