The Next Web is reporting that a vulnerability in the Find My Phone service may have allowed attackers to brute-force passwords in order to access the iCloud accounts of celebrities.

The vulnerability allegedly discovered in the Find my iPhone service appears to have allowed attackers to use this method to guess passwords repeatedly without any sort of lockout or alert to the target. Once the password has been eventually matched, the attacker can then use it to access other iCloud functions freely.

A tool to exploit the weakness was uploaded to Github, where it remained for two days before being shared on Hacker News … 

Apple patched the service at 3.20am PT today. While it’s possible that the timing was coincidental, an iCloud exploit being posted online just two days before the photos appeared, and being patched shortly after the story broke, makes this seem unlikely. Apple has not yet responded to a request for comment.

It’s worth noting that the vulnerability did not allow access to iCloud passwords, it only permitted repeated guesses or an automated dictionary attack. In order for it to succeed, relatively weak passwords would need to have been used on the accounts accessed.

As a lot of celebrities know each other, it’s likely that once one account was compromised, contacts data could be used to identify the email addresses of other celebrities, doing the same thing with each account accessed.

While the tool only appeared on Github two days ago, its author or others may have had access to it for far longer, potentially explaining the reported publishing of photos deleted by their owners some considerable time ago.

As with any online service, it’s always advisable to use strong passwords and two-factor authentication.

Screengrab courtesy of @viniciuskmax

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel

About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

Ben Lovejoy's favorite gear