Serious Flaws Discovered in Apple iCloud Backup Security
Recently I posted an article explaining why attorneys should be concerned about the recent iCloud celebrity photo breach. At the time that I posted the article, details were just coming out about how these individuals had their confidential materials leaked. Since then, the leading theory has been that the celebrities had their iCloud iPhone backups accessed by malicious users using tools originally developed for law enforcement purposes. Christina Warren of Mashable recently posted a great article explaining just how easily she was able to hack her own iCloud backup. I recommend that all attorneys read her post to see just how easy some of this information can be obtained.
My recommendation based on the events of the past week is that attorneys should not store confidential materials on iCloud until Apple makes the online service more secure. If you backup your iPhone or iPad using iTunes, you have the option of encrypting your backup with a separate password (that can and should be different from your iTunes password). Unfortunately this option is not available for iCloud backups. Without a second-factor authentication option or a separate encryption password for your online backups, a malicious user would only need to determine your iCloud password to access all your backed up data.
You can turn off iCloud backup by going into your iOS settings and choosing iCloud. Within the initial iCloud settings you can choose Storage & Backup to choose whether to enable iCloud Backup. Within that settings panel simply disable iCloud backup to turn it of on your device.
If you have other iOS devices, choose Manage Storage and from there you can delete backups from iCloud. You also should be careful that you understand what other apps on your device may be using iCloud to store data. To determine this, choose Documents & Data from within the initial iCloud settings. This will give you a list of apps that are storing data on iCloud. If you keep confidential client data within any of these apps, you may want to disable the ability of these apps to store documents and data in iCloud.
It is important to remember that these recommendations are only if you have confidential information on your device. If you do choose to disable iCloud backups, it is important that you plug your device into your computer and backup using iTunes on a regular basis (and select the encryption option in iTunes). Email account passwords are not stored on the iCloud backup, so do not worry about this information being at risk if you do choose to use iCloud backup.
I am hoping that with the attention this has been receiving in the press that Apple quickly offers options to better secure iCloud in the near future. In the meantime, it is important that you at least understand what data on your device is being uploaded to the cloud and that you know if it is adequately protected.
Update: According to 9 to 5 Mac, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has issued a statement promising that Apple will enable new notifications in the next two weeks to address some of the concerns discussed above. Notably individuals will begin to receive emails when a password is changed, when a backup is restored to a new device, when a device logs into iCloud for the first time, and users will be able to use two factor authentication for iCloud when iOS 8 is released. It is nice that Apple is promising quick improvements to better secure user’s data.
Read Christina Warren’s How I Hacked My Own iCloud Account, for Just $200 http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Mashable/~3/I41sXRKDLao/