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 celebrities

Hackers Leak Explicit Photos of More Than 100 Celebrities

Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton among the victims of hacking from a cloud-based data storage network

Jennifer Lawrence, Selena Gomez and Kirsten Dunst were among an estimated 100 celebrities alleged to have private and explicit photos leaked online Sunday, after hackers apparently accessed their cellphones through a cloud-based storage network.

The photographs originally turned up on the website 4chan, where hackers claimed to have infiltrated the phones of more than 100 celebrities and promised to leak more images in the future.

The pictures were reportedly stolen from a cloud-based data storage network. Some posters claimed it was Apple’s iCloud system that was hacked, Mashable reports, though the company has not confirmed those rumors.

A spokesperson for Lawrence acknowledged the authenticity of the images, calling it a “flagrant violation of privacy” and vowing to prosecute anyone who shared the images online. “The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence,” the spokesperson said in a statement, People Magazine reports.

Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead lambasted both the people who posted and viewed the images, which she said were taken in the privacy of her home with her husband.

Nickelodeon star Victoria Justice denied the authenticity of the images, accusing hackers of doctoring images.

McKayla Maroney, the teenage gymnast who won Olympic gold medals in the team and vault competitions in 2012, also tweeted that images of her were faked. Like Winstead, she had a message for the hackers:

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

fortunelogo-blue
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

fortunelogo-blue
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 Video Games

Firewatch Is One of the Most Gorgeous Games You’ll See All Year

Looks like 2015 can't come around fast enough

Firewatch, the first, much-anticipated game from Camp Santo, unveiled its first trailer this week. The video the plight of the game’s main character as well as his companion, a voice on the distant end of a radio. Campo Santo is a new studio that includes designers Jake Rodkin and Sean Vanaman, both of Telltale Games’ acclaimed Walking Dead series. The group also includes Nels Anderson who worked on Mark of the Ninja and graphic designer Olly Moss. The game is planned for release on Linux, Mac and Windows sometime in 2015. You can watch the entire trailer here, or check out some of the most beautiful bits below.

[Campo Santo]

Campo Santo Productions
Campo Santo Productions
Campo Santo Productions
firewatch_5
Campo Santo Productions
Campo Santo Productions
TIME Gaming

The One Reason the New Nintendo 3DS Is Going to Crush Competitors

Nintendo New 3DS Nintendo

Doubling down on what tablets and phones simply can't do

Nintendo unveiled an updated design for its popular handheld system, the 3DS, on August 29. The sleek new version is more powerful and packs a number of incremental improvements like better cameras and screens. As competition for consumers’ attention with phones and tablets increases, the Japanese gaming giant is also doubling down on something Apple iPads and devices powered by Google’s Android system typically don’t have: buttons. The New Nintendo 3DS features a new analog control stick as well as two new buttons.

Buttons matter because, no matter how much more powerful phones and tablets get or how much more sophisticated the software that runs on them, manipulating many games without them is still cumbersome. The best mobile games have devised unique control methods for touch interfaces, but titles with traditional setups—guiding a character across 3D space, for instance—still suffer. Nintendo’s trio of new buttons amounts to a keen doubling down on what a gaming-dedicated device like the 3DS still does best, namely playing console-like games.

On Nintendo’s new device, the right analog knob is located above the right-hand face buttons. In addition to the new controller, the gadget has third and fourth back trigger buttons, dubbed ZR and ZL buttons, located for use in conjunction with the new stick. The New 3DS will be available in both regular and XL-sized models with dimensions similar to current hardware.

In a presentation, the company promised a wider 3D viewing angle than previous models. Additional features include an automatic brightness adjustment sensor, Micro SD card slot, camera improvements, and colorful face buttons. The New 3DS will be available in Japan in October 2014. A U.S. release date has not been set yet.

 New 3DS
Nintendo
 New 3DS
Nintendo
 New 3DS
Nintendo
TIME Crowdfunding

This Smart Cooler is Now the Most Successful Kickstarter Project Ever

Coolest Cooler

Ice bucket meets challenge

Experts say wearable technology is the next big thing, but now the people have spoken. And the people don’t want smartwatches — they want a cooler that will make margaritas and charge their phones while blasting the latest Pitbull song.

The Coolest Cooler, which has a built-in blender, waterproof speakers, USB chargers, LED lights and other features, become the most successful Kickstarter campaign ever on Tuesday, the crowdfunding site announced. The project raised $13,285,226 from more than 60,000 backers in 52 days, beating previous record-holder the Pebble smartwatch, which raised more than $10 million in 2012.

The historic Kickstarter campaign marks the second attempt by creator Ryan Grepper to fund the cooler of the future. In 2013, his design failed to meet its $125,000 funding goal in time, so this year, he opted for a more modest $50,000 goal — that ended up raising $2 million in 24 hours.

Alas, the Coolest Cooler won’t be ready for any Labor Day bashes (Grepper is still finalizing the design and choosing a factory), but it is still coming to a pool party near you: backers who donated $165 or more are expected to receive the cooler in February 2015, and the item will likely retail for $299.

TIME

The Is the Best Wi-Fi Router You Can Buy

header

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter. Read the original full article below at TheWirecutter.com

By David Murphy

If your laptop, smartphone, or tablet uses the latest wireless-AC networking technology and you’re shopping for a new router, you should get the Netgear R6250. The benefits of wireless-ac are great: super-fast performance that can be stronger at longer distances than wireless-n routers. More than 100 hours of combined testing and research led us to the $150 R6250, which boasts the best combination of speed, price, and features of any router in its price range, and unlike more expensive and newer routers, has technology your most modern gear can actually take advantage of.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 7.06.50 PM

How we decided on the R6250

Our pick supports two data streams for wireless-n and three for wireless-ac. Our research indicates that two-stream wireless-N and -AC technology are the most common connection types for laptops, tablets, and smartphones, while three-stream wireless-ac is what you’ll find on new top-of-the-line laptops like the latest MacBook Pro.

How did we pick this price point? Basically, a $200 router can be faster than our main pick, but only if your devices can take advantage of it—most things we own today can’t. On the other hand, paying less than $100 for a wireless-ac router means sacrificing speed and/or range, and you might also lose a number of useful features, like media streaming, parental controls, and remote access.

Our router finalists for speed and features, based on a lot of research and interviewing with the best wireless gear testers, were the Netgear R6250 ($150), Asus RT-AC56U ($112), Asus RT-AC66U ($170), and TP-Link Archer C7 ($99). We tested them by running performance benchmarks at four different testing stations inside a 2,700 square-foot, one-story house.

Our pick

In our tests, Netgear’s R6250 delivered great performance for its price. Its features are comprehensive, it’s reliable, and it looks good. It’s easy to set up, with both a basic mode and an advanced mode to give networking gurus extra control. Wireless networking expert Tim Higgins, of SmallNetBuilder, also puts the R6250 ahead of its peers.

The Runner Up

If for some reason the R6250 is unavailable, or too expensive, we recommend the Asus RT-AC56U. It’s as good as the R6250 in terms of speed and range and was a strong runner up. But we, and some people who bought it, encountered occasional stability issues when connecting to its 2.4GHz wireless band. Asus hasn’t updated the router since we tested it, and some Amazon reviewers are still seeing performance issues on the latest firmware. Caveat emptor.

If you have a $100 limit

If you prefer to spend less than $100, get the $94 TP-Link Archer C7. It has excellent speed and range, but its interface is harder to use. Some features, like parental controls and USB file sharing, are implemented poorly. Others, like Quality of Service settings, are missing entirely. The C7 also ignores wireless coexistence rules, so it may interfere with your neighbors’ Wi-Fi. The Netgear R6250 is better for most people because its interface is more comprehensive and intuitive. There’s more you can do, and it’s easier to do it.

Even better, but not worth it for most

There are many routers around $200 with more features and faster performance, but they’re not worth it for most people. The Netgear Nighthawk R7000 ($192) is among the most popular. It has features our main pick doesn’t, like support for Time Machine, VPN and iTunes, and advanced Quality of Service (QoS) settings. It supports a new technology called TurboQAM that can give your wireless devices more bandwidth, but to use TurboQAM right now, you’d need a $100 Wi-Fi adapter that only works in desktop PCs, so it’s not yet worth paying extra for. The R7000’s three-stream wireless-ac speeds are significantly faster than the R6250’s, so if you have lots of three-stream devices, like a room full of new MacBook Pros, the R7000 is a good upgrade. But most people don’t, so there’s little reason to spend this much money on a router.

In closing

We think the $150 R6250 is the best all-around wireless-ac router for most people, but you’re going to want to make sure it’s the best router for your home or apartment setup.

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to The Wirecutter.com

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser