Hass & Associates Online Reviews

Hass & Associates Online Reviews - The Naked Truth About Internet Security

At ProgrammableWeb's API conference next week in London (Sept 24-26), my keynote session will identify patterns in some of the recent cybersecurity transgressions, what could have been done to stop them, and why Internet security is currently a trainwreck.

It Will Fappen To You. It's Only a Matter of Time.

It was apparently a wake-up call for the general public when, in what is now being called the "Fappening," headlines revealed that hackers were able to publish nude photos belonging to celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence that were thought to be both private and secure in Apple's iCloud. Though Lawrence very bravely acknowledged that the photos were indeed of her and not Photoshopped fabrications, make no mistake about it; for her and the other impacted celebrities, it was the ultimate digital violation of their privacy.

For Apple, which was on the verge of announcing Apple Pay -- a means by which iPhone 6 users would be able to make NFC-based contactless payments at supporting merchants -- the timing could not have been worse. When it comes to handling personal payments, nothing matters more than trust. Just ask Home Depot and Goodwill; two big national brands suffering an erosion of trust after hackers gained access to the credit card data of hundreds of thousands of their customers.

Likewise, thanks to the revelation that the so-called hackers gained unauthorized access to celebrity iCloud accounts, Apple's trust took a hit. But, in the scheme of things for Apple, it's really more like a flesh wound. Compared to other vendors of personal technology, Apple has enjoyed a relatively stellar track record when it comes to security. Meanwhile, fearful that it could happen to them, iCloud users everywhere scrambled to change their passwords, remove any sensitive content from their iCloud accounts, and reconfigure their iOS devices so as not to automatically upload newly taken photographs and video to Apple's iCloud.

But for many of us who are closer to the nuances of Internet and digital security, this was not a wake up call. This was just another successful hack in a long line of transgressions that collectively point to (1) the lengths to which hackers with nefarious intent will go to achieve their objectives, (2) the fundamental problems with the way the Internet is secured, and (3) how APIs are increasing the Internet's vulnerable surface area and what API providers must do about it. After all, while Apple will very likley regain the trust of most of its customers, a transgression of this nature could mean death for a smaller brand. The stakes are not to be underestimated.

While Apple has, in its press release regarding the incident, admitted that celebrity iCloud accounts were victimized by a targeted attack, it has also said that the attack was not a result of a breach in the security of its systems and infrastructure. While the meaning of "breach" is like "beauty" (it's in the eyes of the beholder), Apple, for its part, has not disclosed the exact details of the transgression (transparency is still a major problem in our industry) and so much of what is public at this point still falls into the journalistic bucket of speculation. Nevertheless, if true, the currently prevailing non-Apple account of the celebrity iCloud incident offers some very visceral clues as to the lengths that hackers will go to achieve their objectives.