If ever there was a sign that you should make regular local backups, this must be it.
US technology journalist Mat Honan had the contents of his iPhone, iPad, and Macbook Air destroyed, and lost control of his Gmail and Twitter accounts in a quick and deadly attack that took about 15 minutes.
In his blog, Honan stated he was playing with his daughter when his phone suddenly went dead and rebooted to the set-up screen.
"I entered my iCloud login to restore, and it wasn't accepted. Again, I was irritated, but not alarmed."
He then attempted to restore his data from an iCloud backup using his Macbook, but got an iCal message saying his Gmail account information was wrong. The screen then went blank, asking for a four digit pin.
“By now, I knew something was very, very wrong.”
Honan used to write for technology website Gizmodo and still had Gizmodo’s Twitter account linked to his account. The hacker took advantage of this by using both accounts to tweet racist and offensive remarks.
After the attack, Honan was contacted by the hacker, who said that his account was accessed “via Apple tech support and some clever social engineering that let them bypass security questions.” Apple has confirmed that its own support staff gave a hacker access to Honan’s accounts, and that they are working on restoring his data.
Of his weekend, Honan stated “I’ve lost more than a year’s worth of photos, emails, documents, and more. And, really, who knows what else. It’s been a shitty night.”
This is not the only time this has happened. Chance Graham, a designer, tweeted “Exact same thing happened to me – iCloud was social engineered via support. All accounts compromised. Hacker contacts me. Same m/o?”
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has said of the cloud, “I really worry about everything going to the cloud… I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years.”
"With the cloud, you don't own anything. You already signed it away … a lot of people feel, 'Oh, everything is really on my computer,' but I say the more we transfer everything on to the web, on to the cloud, the less we're going to have control over it."