Apple appears to have made at least one New Year’s resolution: to do everything possible to keep iCloud users safe.
According to Business Insider, the company has already managed to fend off a tool called iDict that could allow cybercriminals to easily get around the security systems protecting its cloud-based storage service. Those interested can easily find iDict on the popular GitHub portal of publicly available software projects. However, the story reports that Apple is locking accounts that may be affected by the tool.
Security concerns about iCloud have been on the rise ever since nude photos of several celebrities were stolen in a hack and released online several months ago. As the service has become more popular, Apple has been in the hot seat to ensure those who use it don’t wind up with their personal files in the wrong hands.
Interestingly, the creator of the iDict tool claims it was actually created with good intentions — namely, to make sure Apple closed a major iCloud vulnerability. The Hacker News said PrOx13, whose real name is unknown, was using social media tools such as Twitter to raise awareness about the exploit and promote a solution. This seemed to work, given that Apple closed the exploit just one day after iDict was launched on Jan. 1.
Essentially, iDict was a way for cybercriminals to guess user passwords. As The Mac Observer pointed out, those who were successful would probably only be able to attack one user at a time, and they might still need an Apple ID to gain full access to the account. The tool pulls from a list of popular passwords, which, of course, isn’t infinite. As a result, there have been no reports of major iCloud data leaks based on this particular brute-force attack, but this is more about the potential danger users face.
In fact, Gizmodo positioned the problem as less of an issue for Apple than actual iCloud users by publishing some of the most common logins. As always, the best way to avoid the most basic security breaches is to make sure you don’t use something basic, such as “password.”
iDict’s approach to improving security may strike some as being little better than attacking innocent victims, but as The Independent reported, many users on Twitter and Reddit seemed eager to test out the vulnerability before Apple took action. In the year ahead, this may be a radical and potentially controversial way that security flaws are exposed and dealt with.
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