With Apple expected to unveil its new generation of iPhones next week, the tech firm is on a quest to turn your smartphone into a universal remote control for your life: Want to open your garage door, set your thermostat or look over the stats for your weekly workout? Your iPhone can handle it.
But just as the company wants consumers to let their smartphones run more aspects of their lives, Apple is facing a backlash from the recent news that hackers were able to obtain and publicize photos from a handful of celebrities’ iPhones – raising new questions about how much users can trust their most sensitive data.
The promise of a more convenient, wired life is now showing a darker side, with constant reports of breaches and hacks. And security experts say that companies are routinely rolling out new enticing features and products without first firming up the security of the data consumers are giving up in exchange.
“In a lot of cases, consumers don’t understand that when they slide a button one way or the other that they’re agreeing to upload all their data,” said Dennis Fisher, security evangelist for Kaspersky Lab, an anti-virus and Internet security software firm. “It’s all getting very, very convoluted and complex.”
Having a company run your thermostat remotely and track something like your electricity usage may seem like a neat feature that doesn’t reveal a lot of sensitive information about you. But criminals could, for example, use those trends to figure out when you’re home and when you’re on vacation.
Apple said in a statement Tuesday that none of the cases related to the hacking of celebrities over the weekend “resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems.”
Among security experts, the iPhone, iPad and Mac are actually considered fairly secure from viruses and hackers.
But even before the hacked celebrity photos, some were criticizing Apple for not doing more to protect its users’ information in the cloud.
Shortly before news of the hack broke, Apple instituted protections against “brute-forcing” attacks, in which criminals try to obtain a user’s information by flooding an account with trial-and-error attempts to guess the correct username and password.
Apple stock dropped more than 4 percent Wednesday.
At the Sept. 9 event, Apple also is expected to announce a release date for its new mobile operating system, iOS 8.