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Apple's Brutal Week Ends With Security Breach


After acknowledging a serious bug in iMessage and losing brand worth to Google, Apple finishes the week with a security breach affecting iOS devices.

It's been a rough few days for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). Following the announcement of its acquisition of Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion, which some analysts described as ill-advised, Apple suffered several blows to its reputation as an innovative and consistently secure industry leader.
Recently, it came to light that Apple's iOS chat service iMessage routinely deletes text messages sent to former iPhone users who registered their phone numbers with their Apple ID and subsequently switched to Android (NASDAQ:GOOG) or Windows (NASDAQ:MSFT) devices. With solutions and workarounds proving to be unsuccessful for many users, Apple acknowledged the bug and promised a future fix, but not before a class action suit was filed against the company.
A few days later, Apple saw its brand image leapfrogged by its biggest enemy. Research outfit Millward Brown declared Google to be the world's most valuable brand, pushing Apple to the second spot after three years at the top. Noting its brand value has fallen 20% since last year, Millward Brown VP Oscar Yuan said, "Apple's innovations have been more evolutionary than revolutionary" as of late, with Google being responsible for "things [consumers and the business world have] never seen before and things they've never imagined were possible."
And now, as this brutal week mercifully draws to a close, Apple is hit with yet another setback to its brand and reputation.
A hacker who goes by the handle AquaXetine revealed to Cult of Mac a security hole in iCloud which grants ne'er-do-wells access to lost and stolen iOS devices. Warning Apple of the potential exploit "months ago," AquaXetine chose to go public with the issue after accusing the company of biding his time. "They have asked me to contact [them] as quickly as possible, but why now?" he wrote in an email.
Specifically, the hack bypasses the Activation Lock on locked iOS devices by exploiting a security hole in iCloud. With the help of a site called DoulcI -- which is roughly iCloud spelled backwards -- a locked device can be fooled into thinking it's accessing iCloud servers when in fact it's connected to a computer.
With the security lock bypassed, thieves and hackers can access sensitive information on users' iPhones and iPads. According to Cult of Mac's Alex Heath, "Tweets show that thousands of locked iPhones around the world have been bypassed using the tool just today." He added, "Most of the tweets thanking the two hackers come from outside of the US, where stolen iOS devices are shipped and sold at a premium on the black market."
Security researcher and iOS hacker Steven De Franco determined the issue is related to a bug in the firmware and would require an update from Apple to patch it.
On their own, each of these unfortunate incidents would be very unwelcome for Apple's reputation. But occurring over the course of a week, all when the company is trying to reclaim its position as the de facto leader of the tech world...? Apple better hope that next month's WWDC wows consumers and analysts with some exciting new products and services.
Failing that, transit maps and song identification will only make things worse.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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