Apple iCloud hack: privacy experts call for default 'private photo' mode from companies

Apple has been criticized for shifting blame onto users following the hack of celebrities private, photos (including Jennifer Lawrence, above) this week

Click to follow
The Independent Tech

The hacking of dozens of celebrities’ private photos this week has sparked new concerns about the safety of digital back-ups in the cloud, with privacy experts are calling for companies to offer greater protection and education for users.

Although Apple has admitted that its automatic back-up service iCloud was compromised multiple times, they have maintained that this was due to weak passwords and bad security practices rather than flaws in the company’s encryption.

Security experts have in turn accused Apple of shifting blame, saying that that even if users weren’t being as careful as they should have been, Apple should have been careful on their behalf – especially as its ambitions for cloud computing include health and home data in the future.

Apple says accounts were compromised but denies responsibility
Naked celebrity photo hacks the work of an 'underground nude trading ring'

Chris Soghoian, a technology analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), points out that although Apple’s users might have been using poor passwords, the fact that Apple devices require “customers to regular enter their passwords on their phones […] encourages uses to pick short, easy-to-enter passwords.”

Soghoian goes on to say that companies including Apple, Google and Microsoft should offer a “private photo” option to hide sensitive images – just as ‘private browsing’ sessions on Google Chrome and Internet Explorer don’t record when users browse pornographic material.

Video: Apple denies security flaw

(This is despite companies’ “prudish” assertion that these functions are merely used for “shopping for engagement rings or looking up health information,” says Soghoian.)

“Apple, Google and the other big tech companies should acknowledge that millions of their customers regularly use their products to engage in sensitive, intimate activities,” he writes.

“They should treat their customers like grownups and educate them about how they can use their products and services to engage in intimate activities, as safely as possible.”

Self-deleting messaging apps such as Snapchat are already catering to this need, but with such young start-ups still making security mistakes of their own, it’s up to the incumbent players in the tech industry to acknowledge that their customers’ privacy is their concern – and not just pay lip service when it suits them.

Comments