Celebrity photo hack puts a cloud over Apple

Apple's iCloud storage system, now under fire, was introduced at the company's World Wide Developers Conference in 2011.

This is the view from Apple headquarters this week:

Twitter was full of celebrities tweeting about how they felt violated when nude photos from their iCloud accounts were posted online after they were apparently hacked

The story led to speculation about weaknesses in iCloud security, and all this less than a week before a major announcement from Apple, likely the unveiling of an iPhone 6.

“It’s a hit to Apple,” says Colin Gillis, a senior technology analyst at BGC Financial. He says Apple should be looking forward, and presenting consumers with new security tools like biometrics — requiring a fingerprint instead of just a password to access accounts.

“They will offer you solutions that you’ll have, you know, extended on new iPhones to help prevent these types of things," Gillis says.

So, just buy a new iPhone and everything will be fine, right? 

Not quite, because the celebrity nude photo dump is so much more personal than a credit card data breach.

“It’s like someone, you know, going through your personal trash," says Jeff Howe, head of the media innovation program at Northeastern University. "I think it absolutely engenders a sense of violation.”

That could make consumers more wary of sharing personal stuff online. Could something like that happen to our data in the cloud?

Cathy Boyle, a senior mobile analyst at eMarketer, said she's definitely noticed more wariness from consumers.

“But I think if you tell them that if you share a certain amount of your information with us in exchange for something valuable, then people seem to be more accepting of sharing their information,” she says.

So companies would have to offer us a discount or special treatment for our online data.  Otherwise, hey — stay off my cloud. 

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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