Jennifer Lawrence, Arianna Grande and Kim Kardashian are amongst the extensive list of celebrities that have had their iCloud accounts’ hacked throughout the last month, resulting in a number of their nude images being uploaded online. As The Sydney Morning Herald reported, the stars’ private images were uploaded for the world to view via the online viral image sharing forums, 4chan, Reddit and most recently, Fappening.  There has been no confirmation that these leaks have resulted from a breach in the security of Apple’s iCloud system, and Apple has stated that they are assisting in an investigation. The unfortunate incident raises questions of risks associated with data stored in ‘the cloud’ or any other other online digital platform. This seems an untimely issue for Apple, as recent marketing campaigns feature a soon-to-be-released payment mechanism for iPhones. Apple’s iCloud security system uses a minimum of 128-bit AES encryption, which, as CBC News states, is equivalent to what is currently used by banks and other financial institutions.  It has been highlighted by Apple that the photo leaks could have been prevented if the celebrity’s iCloud two-factor authentication had been turned on.  This was a feature created in March this year by Apple to ensure that users’ information would remain private. The security feature prompts users to enter their Apple username and password, and an additional verification code is sent via text message to one of the user’s devices.  To provide a heightened sense of security, Apple reminds users that they can also turn off their photo syncing through Settings> iCloud on their iPhone or iPad.

Until the investigation is complete, all mobile phone users should take care to minimise the risk of their personal photos and sensitive information becoming public by actively checking that all security features are on with their preferred digital media.