Apple is reining in security of its iCloud before its expected launch of a virtual wallet system and after hundreds of intimate celebrity photos stored on its cloud servers were spread across the Internet by hackers.
While Apple stated the security breaches weren't the result of vulnerabilities in iCloud, CEO Tim Cook admitted there were some things his company could have done to prevent the hackers from accessing the private content.
Apple tries to do everything within its power to protect its customers, according to Cook, and Apple is just as outraged by the intrusions as are the victims, he said.
"When I step back from this terrible scenario that happened and say what more could we have done, I think about the awareness piece," Cook said. "I think we have a responsibility to ratchet that up. That's not really an engineering thing."
To enhance the security of iCloud, Cook said Apple is stepping up enforcement of its two-step authentication process for iTunes and iCloud. Users will have to offer two forms of digital credentials that include passwords, user-defined pin codes and Apple-issued pins. Users will have the option to turn on the feature in the new iOS 8 operating system, which would require them to use a username/password plus one other security code to log into iTunes with a new device.
Apple will also alert account holders when a new device attempts to access iTunes or iCloud.
While the notifications and enhanced confirmation process may be reassuring, it would only be another obstacle for a hacker that has gone far enough to get a foot into the door protecting sensitive data.
Apple will start implementing the changes in roughly two weeks, around the time the company releases the latest version of its mobile operating system.
Apple is scheduled to hold a media event on Sept. 9 in Cupertino, where its widely projected to release the next line of iPhones and present a virtual wallet system that uses near-field communication to exchange financial details with point of sale systems.
If Apple is, in fact, planning to launch a mobile payments system, it's vital for the tech company to assure its fan base it needn't worry about the security of personal information. To prove to customers it has been actively investigating iCloud's security breaches, Apple released an advisory on the probe's progress.
"After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet," Apple stated. "None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple's systems, including iCloud or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved."