TIME Security

Is It Safe for You to Use the Cloud After Celebrity Hack?

Apple's New iPhone 4s Goes On Sale
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

These four tips can help protect your information online

News of a hacker breaking into Apple iCloud accounts to steal photos of dozens of female celebrities has rocked the tech world, where Apple’s security measures had been thought by many to be rock-solid.

And if hackers can access the accounts of celebrities, it’s possible they could access your information as well. Here’s what you can do to protect the data you save to the cloud:

Use Two-Step Authentication

Two-step authentication requires you to answer two questions before you can access an account. Typically, one question requires you to recall a password and another requires you to look at a text message or email and enter an authentication code. The process is a huge deterrent for hackers who may use one of many sophisticated methods to guess a password but have no way to access your phone to tap in an authentication code. A number of services offer two-step authentication, including the iCloud, Gmail and many banks. For most services you have to opt in.

Check the Cloud, Not Just Your Device

After hearing that her photos had made their way to the Internet, Scott Pilgrim star Mary E. Winstead said she had deleted the photos in question “long ago.” But deleting photos from your phone doesn’t mean that they’re deleted from the cloud. In fact, the cloud exists to back up everything you do and create on a device. If there’s something you never want anyone to see, delete it everywhere!

Vary Your Passwords Between Devices and Sites

This is an obvious one, but you may be surprised how many people don’t follow it. Having the same password for everything greatly increases your exposure to potential hackers. Once they get access to one thing, they have it all.

If You Don’t Want People to See, Don’t Put It Out There

Even the most cautious Internet users are vulnerable to attacks, as hacking technology gets ever more complex. If there’s something you really wouldn’t want people to see, don’t put it out there. That is, don’t put it anywhere on the Internet.

TIME Security

How That Massive Celebrity Hack Might Have Happened

"The Other Woman" - Los Angeles Premiere
Kate Upton at the Los Angeles Premiere of "The Other Woman" at Regency Village Theatre on April 21, 2014 in Westwood, Calif. Jon Kopaloff—FilmMagic/Getty Images

Tech experts say hackers may have gained access to cellphone pictures of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and others in the iCloud via the "Find My iPhone" app

Correction appended

The leak of personal photos of more than 100 female celebrities, nude and otherwise, has tech observers questioning and debating potential vulnerabilities in Apple’s iCloud. But for those of us who don’t intuitively understand technology the questions remain: how could this happen and could it happen to me? Here are some answers:

Who was affected?

An anonymous user posted photos of celebrities like The Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence and model Kate Upton to the site 4Chan. The hacker claimed that there could be posts of more than 100 celebrities in total. Some celebrities, Lawrence and Upton included, confirmed the photos’ authenticity. Others, like Nickelodeon star Victoria Justice, claimed the photos were fakes.

How did the hackers do it?

The leading theory goes that hackers found a vulnerability in Apple iCloud’s “Find My iPhone” service, which helps users find lost or stolen phones via the cloud. Apple typically protects its products from so-called “brute force” programs that repeatedly guess random passwords for a given username until it gets a match.

But for some reason, various tech blogs have reported, Apple failed to do this with its Find My iPhone service. Hackers identified this vulnerability, TheNextWeb reports, and allegedly used a brute force service called “iBrute” to gain access to celebrities’ passwords — and consequently, the photos stored in their iCloud accounts.

Some tech observers are skeptical of this explanation, though. Most hacks occur through more straightforward methods of collecting a user’s personal data — via a lost cellphone owned by one of the celebrities, for example. There’s also evidence that some photos came from other devices that wouldn’t back up to the iCloud, like Android phones.

What does Apple have to say about all of this?

An Apple spokesperson told Re/code that the company is “actively investigating” the issue, but provided few other details. The company also reportedly rolled out a security upgrade Monday, just hours after the first hack, to eliminate the possibility of a brute force service gaining access to passwords via Find My iPhone.

Could this happen to me?

If the hackers did indeed use a brute force method on the iCloud and Apple has yet to fix the problem, then, in short, yes it could happen to you. Brute force methods can be applied so long as the hacker has your username. That said, this method does not collect broad amounts of data for a lot of people. Hackers would need a reason to target you specifically.

How do I protect myself?

The only way to completely protect yourself on the internet is to stay off it. But if you want to continue living in the 21st century, use two-step verification. Apple’s iCloud is just one of many services where you can set your account so that it asks you two personalized questions before you can access it. This makes it much, much harder for hackers to get where you don’t want them. Also, maybe think twice before uploading those nude photos?

The original version of this article misidentified the alleged role of code-hosting site GitHub in the data theft. Hackers reportedly used a code that was posted to the site.

TIME Smartphones

How You’ll Be Able to Use Your iPhone 6 as a Wallet

A guide to the mobile-payment system Apple is expected to unveil on Sept. 9

Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 6 on Sept. 9, and rumors about some possible features have been years in the making. One of those features is expected to be Apple’s big foray into a mobile-payment system, which would allow users to make purchases on the go with just their iPhones instead of their wallet. But if ditching cash and debit cards for one device sounds like a nightmare from the future, don’t be alarmed. Here’s what you need to know about what Apple might be planning and what the system could eventually look like.

How would I use my iPhone to pay for something?
The way you pay for anything else while shopping — visit a store, walk up to the register, present your method of payment (cash, credit card or, in this case, your phone) and make a transaction. The exact specifics of how these transactions will work is unclear, but it’s likely to function like an expanded version of the iPhone’s Passbook app, which allows users to store tickets, boarding passes and coupons with bar codes that can be scanned.

What technology would allow mobile payments to happen?
Wired, which reports that mobile payments “will be one of the hallmark features of the [new iPhone] when it’s unveiled,” says that near field communication (NFC) will be a major part of the feature. NFC is a way for devices to wirelessly exchange small amounts of data over very short distances, usually within a few centimeters, often by tapping one smart object against another. While devices using Bluetooth technology have to be set up to work together, the presence of a NFC chip in the new iPhone would allow for secure transactions quickly and easily.

Would it work the same for every store?
One patent discovered by AppleInsider in 2013 “describes an e-wallet system that would provide users with “smart menus” based on the context of a transaction.” That would suggest that Apple’s mobile-payments system will eventually be equipped to offer different payment options depending on the store or retailer — so, for example, it might determine which store you’re in based on your location, and charge money to the same card you used last time you were there, or take advantage of rewards programs linked to a particular card.

How might it process payments?
Through iTunes. One patent Apple was granted in 2012 “shows us that the credit card companies will be sending statements directly to your iTunes account,” according to the blog Patently Apple, which tracks the company’s intellectual property news. Apple has 800 million iTunes accounts on file, most of which are linked to credit cards — that’s believed to be larger than the number of accounts on file at either Amazon or PayPal.

What credit-card companies are on board?
Bloomberg has reported that Apple has made agreements with Visa, American Express and MasterCard. The American Express news was reported earlier Sunday morning by Re/code. The Information previously reported that Apple and Visa had reached an agreement.

How do we know Apple is interested in this?
Apple has been pursuing iWallet-related patents for a few years now. Earlier this year, Apple was also looking to hire a few executives with experience in the payments industry to build “a business around the hundreds of millions of credit cards it already has on file,” according to Re/code. Apple CEO Tim Cook also said that there is “a lot of opportunity” with mobile payments during an earnings call in January:

“We’re seeing that people love being able to buy content, whether it’s music or movies or books, from their iPhone, using Touch ID. It’s incredibly simple and easy and elegant. And it’s clear that there’s a lot of opportunity there … The mobile payments area in general is one that we’ve been intrigued with and that was one of the thoughts behind the Touch ID. But we’re not limiting ourselves just to that.”

Who else has tried this?
The Google Wallet system allows users to store information from all kinds of cards (credit, debit, gift, loyalty) and pay stores and friends using NFC technology. PayPal also allows users to pay retailers, restaurants and more through its mobile app. In terms of hardware, phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 have had NFC services. But mobile payments like these haven’t exactly become widespread. That may change as Apple’s large contingent of devoted iPhone users make a mobile-payments system more attractive to a greater number of merchants. And the fact that Apple already also has so many iTunes accounts on file means users may be more inclined to try out the service, as they may not have to go through all the steps a new service would require.

TIME

The Most Exciting Feature About the Next iPhone Is Unexpected

Here's what an iPhone screen made of sapphire would mean
Artur Debat—Moment Editorial/Getty Images

A huge change could be coming on Sept. 9

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This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

By Philip Elmer-DeWitt

It’s not official, but good journalists at Wired and the Financial Times reported Thursday that Apple’s next generation of consumer devices — iPhones for sure, wearable devices maybe — will come equipped with a NFC (near field communication) chip for making mobile payments.

This is big news, in part because Apple is so late to the NFC party.

The rest of the world switched to the technology years ago. Google, Samsung, Nokia, Sony, Blackberry, Visa, MasterCard. It’s the way credit cards talk to banks and retailers in most of the countries of Europe and Asia.

But not in the U.S.

That’s about to change. Visa and MasterCard have set an October 2015 deadline for U.S. retailers to switch from magnetic strips to embedded chips. If Apple wants in on the game, now’s the time.

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

TIME Apple

Why The Bar for Apple’s Sept. 9 Event Is Incredibly High

DOUNIAMAG-US-IT-INTERNET-APPLE-ITUNES RADIO
AFP/Getty Images

Can Apple make innovative new products without Steve Jobs at the helm? This event may answer that question once and for all

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This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

By Philip Elmer-DeWitt

The invitations went out at noon on Aug. 28, confirming month-old leaks, eliminating one uncertainty and giving the stock a little boost.

Now it’s up to Apple to deliver.

The bar is high — as it always is for this company — but this time Apple’s executive team may have been hoist on its own rhetoric.

In May, senior vice president Eddy Cue described what’s coming this fall as “the best product pipeline” he has seen in 25 years, words he may regret if that pipeline is found lacking.

Meanwhile, CEO Tim Cook promised that Apple would break into new categories — in other words, something beyond iPhones, iPads and Macs. Pressed by the Wall Street Journal’s Daisuke Wakabayishi, Cook begged for patience in a way that only raised the bar higher:

“You want to take the time to get it right. Our objective has never been to be first. It’s to be the best. To do things really well, it takes time. You can see a lot of products that have been brought to market where the thinking isn’t really deep and, as a consequence, these things don’t do very well. We don’t do very many things so we spend a lot of time on every detail and that part of Apple isn’t changing. It’s the way we’ve operated for years and it’s the way we still operate. I feel great about what we’ve got coming. Really great and it’s closer than it’s ever been.”

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

TIME Gadgets

Watch the Evolution of Apple’s iPhone in a Single GIF

Apple; Gif by Joseph C. Lin—TIME

From 2007 to 2014

It seems like ages since Steve Jobs first announced Apple’s first iPhone in 2007. At the time, the heavy, 4GB device seemed like a technology miracle, but today it looks just a little dated compared to the iPhone’s latest iteration — and who knows what it’ll look like compared to the iPhone 6, which is just around the corner.

TIME captured the evolution of the iPhone in just a few seconds.

TIME Companies

Apple Wins Patent for Its Glass Cube Store Design

Apple Wins Patent on Glass Cube Store Design
A general view of the glass cube facade of the Fifth Avenue Apple store in front of the Plaza Hotel on February 9, 2012 in New York City. Ben Hider—Getty Images

The 14-year patent will protect the building's "ornamental design"

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved Apple’s application this week to patent its iconic glass cube design at its flagship Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan.

Filed in 2012, the 14-year patent sanctions the “ornamental design” of the 32-foot cube, which underwent a $6.7 million remodeling in 2011 to achieve a cleaner look with 15 glass panels instead of 90, according to Apple Insider. Apple had applied in 2010 to trademark the “distinctive design of the building” but that has not yet been approved.

The glass staircases inside Apple Stores were also patented last year, according to documents published by the USPTO. Apple previously won a patent in 2012 for the glass cylinder design of its flagship store in Shanghai.

The cube was designed by several people including former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who died in 2011, according to the patent application. Jobs had reportedly paid for the construction of the glass cube himself and owned the structure.

TIME Companies

Apple Confirms Sept. 9 Event, Likely to Debut iPhone 6

"We wish we could say more"

+ READ ARTICLE

Apple has confirmed that it is holding a press event on Sept. 9, most likely to unveil new products. The company is widely expected to debut a new version of the iPhone, and the company will reportedly offer at least one model with a larger 5.5-inch screen.

Reports also indicate that Apple may show off the long-awaited iWatch, a wearable device that would likely run on iOS.

The event will take place in the company’s hometown of Cupertino, California at 10 a.m. Pacific time.

Here’s a look at the invite:


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TIME

Why Used iPhones Are Flooding the Market

Here's the reason why

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This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

By Philip Elmer-DeWitt

gazelle

The market for used iPhones is a funny thing.

It hums along steadily most of the year until, just before the launch — or, more accurately, the expected launch — of a new model, things go nuts.

This year, more than ever. A few data points:

  • According to a survey by Hanover Research, an unprecedented 48% of iPhone owners plan to trade up to whatever Apple has up its sleeve.
  • Gazelle, a leading trade-in site, saw iPhone offers peak at five per second one day last week before settling down to two per second, up 50% from last year.
  • Another site, NextWorth, saw average daily iPhone traffic jump 350% from the previous month. “That’s up from a lift of 182% last year, or almost two times the acceleration,” NextWorth’s Jeff Trachsel told Computerworld. “There’s tremendous pent-up demand for a larger iPhone.”

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

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