Jennifer Lawrence. Arianna Grande. Kate Upton. These are just a few of the known celebrities who recently had their private photos leaked online after a hacker had allegedly compromised their iCloud accounts. The hacker went on to claim they have more than 100 celebrities’ photos in their possession.
How did this happen? There are many theories to what was the root cause. Some say it was due to weak or extremely guessable passwords and answers to security questions. Others say the hacker got hold of the celebrities’ login credentials by sending phishing emails. Another theory is that the WiFi at the Emmy Awards was compromised, which led to the celebrities having their login credentials intercepted by the hacker.
The reality is this could have happened to any company. The focus here shouldn’t be on Apple and iCloud, but rather on taking preemptive measures to ensure the security of your online accounts.
Taking steps to protecting your online accounts
Secure your accounts with strong passwords
We often stress the importance of securing your online accounts with a strong password. This is no different. Using “password” or “abc123” as your password is practically the same as not using a password at all. Get into the habit of securing all of your online accounts with strong passwords, which include a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols.
Here are some tips to make your passwords stronger.
Beware of phishing scams
Phishing scams are one of the oldest tricks in book, yet many people still fall for them today. It’s no surprise that one theory to this incident is that the celebrities were duped into revealing their login credentials through a phishing scam. After all, many people will panic if they saw an email saying, “Unauthorized access has been detected. Please verify or your account will be locked.”
The best way to avoid a phishing scam is to avoid logging into accounts through links within emails, even if you know with full certainty that the email is legitimate. Instead, go to the official website directly and login from there to confirm the email claim.
Here are 7 ways to spot a phishing scam.
Enable two-factor authentication
While iCloud accounts previously did not have two-factor authentication, in light of this incident, Apple said it would strengthen its security measures by adding alerts to notify users when signs of a break-in have been detected, as well as make improvements to its two-factor authentication.
We highly recommend enabling this security feature for all of your online accounts, if applicable. It’s easy to setup, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing you have an additional layer of security protecting your online accounts from unauthorized eyes.
Learn how to turn on two-factor authentication for the following:
Never access sensitive websites over unsecured WiFi
The theory that the WiFi at the Emmy Awards was compromised by a hacker is a possible scenario. With selfies and Tweets guaranteed to happen, the likelihood of attendees using public WiFi to access the Internet is extremely high. Since public WiFi signals are unsecured (or rather unencrypted), the data transmitted could be sniffed out and intercepted. The approach to make sure your data is secured when on public WiFi is to use a VPN (virtual private network). Hotspot Shield, SurfEasy, and Private WiFi are just a few of the many VPN services available.
Learn about the risks of public hotspots.
Don’t wait until it’s too late
Having your private photos stolen from your online accounts (and posted for the world to see) is upsetting and can potentially damage your reputation. But it isn’t just photos – hackers can gain access to your emails, your online banking accounts, and other very sensitive parts of your online life. Taking preemptive measures and being vigilant on the Web makes you a harder target against those who want to take advantage of you.