Apple steps up account security following celebrity pics leak

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple is planning to send out security alerts to iPhone and iPad users whenever an attempt is made to change their account passwords, in the wake of this week's iCloud controversy.

The consumer electronic giant's CEO Tim Cook revealed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that plans are afoot to make it harder for hackers to access users' accounts.

Apple users will soon receive email and push notifications whenever an attempt to change their password occurs, or if a request is made to restore iCloud data to a new device.

Alerts will also be sent out whenever someone tries to login with their Apple ID from a previously unknown Apple device.

Cook also told the publication that Apple will be taking steps to encourage more users to activate two-factor authentication on their devices when iOS 8 drops in the next few weeks.

Furthermore, he said more needs to be done to raise awareness within the Apple user base about how to lockdown their devices, in light of this week's scandal about leaked celebrity photographs online.

As reported by IT Pro earlier this week, hundreds of private pictures belonging to female celebrities, including Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence, were published online without their permission.

Industry watchers were quick to point the finger at Apple's online storage service iCloud for the leak, claiming the pictures ended up in the public domain because hackers managed to breach the system.

Apple went on to staunchly deny this claim, and said the leak was the result of a "targeted attack" on its usernames, passwords and security questions, not an iCloud breach.

In apparent reference to this, Cook 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.

"I think we have a responsibility to ratchet that up. That's not really an engineering thing."

The changes are to be introduced within the next two weeks, Apple added.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.