Dark clouds over Apple as privacy turns into a public affair

Controversy seems to be engulfing the tech giant after several racy celebrity photos were leaked through iCloud

News Desk September 03, 2014

Images of more than 100 celebrities were exposed by an unidentified hacker in a major breach of privacy. Nude images of A-List Hollywood stars, such as Academy Award winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, model Kate Upton and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, were posted on various internet forums by hackers.

There have been reports that the hacker gained access to the files through the iCloud accounts of the celebrities.

This scandal has placed Apple in the unusual position of having to mend its image only a few days before its highly anticipated product launch.

In the wake of the breach, cyber-security experts and mobile developers have criticised Apple and have pointed towards the inadequacies in its cloud-services security in general. A host of people have taken to Twitter to express their frustrations with the company.

According to The Guardian, a number of photos of numerous celebrities have since then been circulating on different file-sharing websites. Imageboard website 4chan was quick to ensure that they removed these posts from their website.

The release of these images has drawn varying responses from the celebrities, with publicists of some, such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, conceding that they are in fact real images whilst other celebrities have either denied their veracity or have chosen to stay tight lipped on the issue.

Kate Upton’s lawyers have acknowledged the authenticity of the photos of the model-turned-actress referring to it as “an outrageous violation” of her privacy. “We intend to pursue anyone disseminating or duplicating these illegally obtained images to the fullest extent possible,” Kate Upton’s attorney Lawrence Shire added.

Apple on Tuesday said that these hacks were the result of targeted attacks on accounts and not a direct breach of their systems and has stated that such attempts are “all too common on the Internet.”

But the current public affair has been deemed as one of Apple’s worst public crisis in years. Speculation continues to spread on social networking websites and internet forums about the flaws in Apple’s iCloud service, which lets computer and mobile users store photos, documents and other data so they can be accessed from a plethora of devices they own.

Brandwatch, a company that analyses sentiment on social media, blogs and other sites, found that prior to the hacking scandal; Apple had very few negative mentions on Twitter, a testament to its strong brand image.

But over the past three days, 17,000 mentions on Twitter were related to the security breach as of Tuesday afternoon. Almost half of these tweets specifically mention Apple. Some of the negative words associated with mentions of Apple’s iCloud service include “violation,” “disgusting violation,” “criminality,” “failure,” “glitch” and “disappointment.”

At its upcoming event, Apple was expected to announce the launch of a mobile payments service alongside its iPhone 6 but the current leaks have left both app developers and customers uncertain.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2014.

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