Third Man Charged in 2014 Celebrity iCloud Phishing Attacks

Emilio Herrera, a 32-year-old man from Chicago, this week pled guilty to hacking into more than 550 iCloud and Gmail accounts, many of which belonged to female celebrities, reports Deadline.

Investigators uncovered Herrera's activities when looking into a 2014 "Celebgate" incident that saw the private photos of dozens of celebrities leaked online after their iCloud usernames and passwords were obtained through phishing attempts.

Herrera used a phishing scheme to get the usernames and passwords of his victims, sending fake emails that appeared to be from Apple and Google. He stole credentials from April 27, 2013 to August of 2014, and used that information to access the iCloud and Gmail accounts of multiple celebrities.

Investigators have not found evidence linking Herrera to the actual leaks that saw nude photographs of celebrities uploaded to sites like reddit and 4chan, nor have they determined that Herrera shared the data that he found, but he did access sensitive photographs and videos.

Herrera pled guilty to a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse act, and he now faces up to five years in federal prison.

Edward Majerczyk and Ryan Collins were previously found to be involved in the Celebgate incident and both pled guilty to similar charges.

When hundreds of nude photos of celebrities were leaked online in 2014, there was initial speculation that iCloud had been hacked, but following an investigation, Apple determined the celebrity accounts had been compromised by week passwords. A Find My iPhone vulnerability that allowed multiple password entry attempts may have also been at fault.

Apple has since improved security by adding two-factor authentication to iCloud.com, introducing email alerts when an iCloud account is accessed on the web, and requiring app-specific passwords for third-party apps that access iCloud.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: iCloud

Discuss this article in our forums

iCloud Infrastructure Executive Departs Apple

Eric Billingsley, director of internet services operations at Apple, is leaving the company, reports CNBC.

Billingsley is responsible for running data center infrastructure and some internet services, including the operating infrastructure for iCloud services like iCloud Drive.

His current responsibilities are being handed over to senior engineering director Patrick Gates, who already oversees infrastructure for other services like Siri. Gates has been with Apple since 2005 and will shortly take over for Billingsley.

Prior to joining Apple in October of 2013, Billingsley served as a director of engineering at Google. Before that, he was a technical fellow at eBay. It's not clear where he will be going after leaving Apple.

According to CNBC, data infrastructure has been an issue at Apple and Gates has been "righting the ship." Apple has been shifting more services to Gates' group's infrastructure as Billingsley's relies on external cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

His departure comes following a major AWS outage in February that impacted services like Apple Music and iTunes, and CBNC speculates that his exit could mean Apple plans to rely more on its own infrastructure rather than third-party cloud services.

Both Billingsley and Gates report to engineering vice president Patrice Gautier, who reports to iTunes chief Eddy Cue.

Tag: iCloud

Discuss this article in our forums

macOS High Sierra and iOS 11 May Fix Long-Standing Sync Issues With iCloud Text Replacements

Apple appears to have resolved long-running iCloud sync issues linked to its text replacement feature with the release of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra. Originally introduced in Snow Leopard and iOS 5, text replacements let users create shortcut text that, when typed, expands to something longer, thus saving input time.

The feature can be found on iOS devices in Settings -> General -> Keyboards -> Text Replacement, and in System Preferences -> Keyboard on Macs. Ideally, changes to the text snippets list on one device should sync to all devices logged in using the same Apple ID, but that hasn't always been the case, as MacStadium's Brian Stucki attests:

Text replacement syncing is completely broken. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it will only sync back old snippets that you have deleted. Sometimes the sync will work one direction, but not the other. Every time I ask about this on Twitter, it brings a strong response of similar experiences.
After years of struggling to get text replacement syncing to work properly, Stucki recently decided to set up a weeks-long experiment to test the reliability of the feature across hundreds of Apple devices running various versions of iOS and OS X/macOS. In short, Stucki's results suggested that the text replacement syncing service was "a complete mess" and routinely failed to sync text snippets across devices.

Following the experiment, Stucki wondered why the syncing had remained so poor across several generations of OS, given that other iCloud syncing features such as Apple Notes had improved in recent years. As noted by Daring Fireball's John Gruber, these improvements corresponded with the introduction of the CloudKit API in 2014, suggesting that text replacements had not been upgraded to run on the newer syncing framework.

However, in an update to his experiment posted on Tuesday, Stucki reported that when he made text replacement changes on a Mac running macOS High Sierra, surprisingly his edits were recognized and synced across nearly every device on the same Apple ID, regardless of OS. "Perhaps a clean install of High Sierra is now saving snippets correctly?" he wondered.


Since then, iOS developer Guilherme Rambo has been able to confirm that text replacements do sync through CloudKit on iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, suggesting Apple has got around to updating the feature to run on the more reliable API. So if you're having trouble syncing text snippets, updating your devices to Apple's latest operating systems might be the best course of action.

Related Roundups: iOS 11, macOS High Sierra
Tag: CloudKit

Discuss this article in our forums

How to Sign Up for iCloud Family Storage Plans in iOS 11

Apple's Family Sharing feature allows you to share music, movies, apps, photos, and more with family members, and in iOS 11, Family Sharing extends to Apple's iCloud Storage plans.

When you purchase a 200GB or 2TB iCloud Storage plan, all members of your family can share the storage space. Depending on how many family members you have, family plans offer more storage at a better price than individual plans.

For example, a 50GB storage plan is priced at $0.99 per person. For two people, the $2.99 200GB plan offers each person an additional 50GB of storage for only $1 more.

How to Upgrade to a Family iCloud Storage Plan



  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Tap on your Apple ID profile at the top of the app.

  3. Choose "Family Sharing," the sixth option in the list.

  4. Tap on "iCloud Storage" to bring up a notice about the new Family Sharing options.

  5. Click "Continue" to choose a plan.

  6. Pick a 200GB or 2TB plan.

You can also access the plan settings through the standard iCloud Storage menu in the Settings app, accessible by going to iCloud > Manage Storage after tapping on your profile.

How to Stop Sharing iCloud Storage With Family


You can sign up for a 2TB or 200GB storage plan and keep family members from accessing your storage space. Here's how:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Tap on your Apple ID profile.

  3. Choose "Family Sharing."

  4. Choose "iCloud Storage."

  5. Tap on "Stop Sharing With Family."

How to Downgrade iCloud Storage


If you want to go back to a cheaper iCloud Storage option, downgrading is as simple as choosing a new plan. New rates won't kick in until the next billing period.

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Tap on your Apple ID profile.

  3. Choose "iCloud."

  4. Tap on "Manage Storage."

  5. Choose "Change" under the iCloud Storage option.

  6. Select a 5GB or 50GB plan to downgrade.

It's important to note that there's no way to allocate how much storage each person gets when using one of Apple's new iCloud Storage plans for families, so it's not always an even split. If a family member is hogging too much space, that's a problem that will need to be worked out offline. You can see how much storage each family member is using by going to profile > Family Sharing > iCloud Storage.


When you choose a 200GB or 2TB storage plan and opt in to Family Sharing, family members who are on the free 5GB plan will be upgraded automatically and will begin using the family storage plan.

Family members who already have a paid plan will need to opt in to the family storage plan to transfer over from their own plans. If they want to have separate storage, your family members can continue to pay for their own plans and choose not to opt into the family plan.

To let your family know that you've signed up for a family iCloud plan, Apple offers an automatic iMessage alert that can be sent out to family members that lets them easily switch over to the family plan.

Related Roundup: iOS 11
Tag: iCloud

Discuss this article in our forums

Barclays Proposes Apple Could Lessen iPhone 8 Pricing Impact by Including Apple Music/iCloud Bundle

Leading up to Apple's September 12 media event, the exact price tag of the upcoming iPhone 8 has been one of the biggest question marks surrounding the smartphone. The latest rumors describe a premium device that will start at $999 (64GB) in the United States, then rise to $1,099 (256GB), and cap at $1,199 (512GB), although of course none of these price points or storage configurations have been confirmed.

Recently, a team of Barclays analysts including Mark Moskowitz have theorized one potential solution for the device's premium price tag: Apple could debut an iPhone 8 bundle that packs in a year's worth of Apple Music and a 200GB iCloud subscription into the cost of the smartphone (via Business Insider). In the U.S., one year of Apple Music costs around $120 at $10/month (although Apple sells gift cards that knock the annual price down to $100/year), while a 200GB monthly iCloud subscription runs at $2.99/month, equating to around $36 each year.


Taken from the cost of the alleged "cheapest" iPhone 8 at $1,000, users would actually be paying about $844 for the smartphone and $156 for the bundled services, which the Barclays analysts said would be "more palatable." Barclays' prediction is based on a survey of wireless service customers (see results chart below), which found that Apple "might" sell around 40.3 million standalone iPhone 8 devices, but with the Apple Music/iCloud bundle that statistic could jump to 64.4 million iPhone 8 units sold.
"Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz and his team think they have figured that out. Apple will offer free subscriptions to Apple Music and 200GB of iCloud storage for one year, a deal worth $156, to anyone who buys iPhone 8. That will bring the perceived cost of the phone back down to a more palatable $844.
While a bundle like this would be a logical move by Apple, locking iPhone 8 customers into the company's ever-growing services ecosystem, Barclays' report is just a prediction and has not yet been corroborated by any other sources as a potential launch plan. In the past, Barclays has gotten close at reporting the facts about unreleased products, but has missed some details. In November 2016, Barclays Research analysts predicted three new iPads would come in March 2017, including refreshed 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch versions and an all-new bezel-free 10.9-inch model.


Only a new 9.7-inch iPad launched in March of this year, while a 12.9-inch and 10.5-inch iPad Pro debuted at Apple's WWDC event in June. Analysts at Barclays have made a handful of predictions that can't yet be rated for accuracy since they concern the iPhone 8, including an expected "limited quantity" September launch, the inclusion of a True Tone display, a Lightning to headphone jack adapter in the box, and faster charging thanks to a 10W power adapter with a USB-C connector and an integrated USB-C Power Delivery chip.

In a separate report today by DigiTimes, Taiwanese supply chain sources have corroborated many of the current rumors surrounding the iPhone 8's pre-order date and price range. Taiwan is said to be "included in the first group of markets" where the iPhone 8, iPhone 7s, and iPhone 7s Plus will be made available for pre-order, with customers in Taiwan reportedly able to place their pre-order on September 15, the sources said. This date makes sense when looking back at the past five years of iPhone launch history.

Like previous reports, DigiTimes cites iPhone 8 prices at $999, $1,099, and $1,199 levels, with storage capacities of 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB, respectively. Samsung's monopoly of the OLED supply chain has been rumored as the explanation behind these high iPhone 8 prices. As is typical with new iPhones, the iPhone 8's launch is expected to be riddled with shortages and shipping delays, and could even ship sometime after the LCD iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s models.

Fortunately, we're only four days away from Apple's September 12 event, where the company will reveal more information about the iPhone 8, iPhone 7s, iPhone 7s Plus, 4K Apple TV, Apple Watch Series 3, and more.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Tags: Barclays, iCloud, Apple Music

Discuss this article in our forums

iCloud Mail Unavailable for Some Users

Apple's iCloud Mail servers seem to be experiencing some downtime, with multiple reports on Twitter suggesting the service is unavailable for a number of users.

iCloud Mail issues appear to have started just before 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time, which is around when we here at MacRumors first noticed problems with our own accounts.


Affected users are seeing pop up alerts when attempting to access their iCloud Mail messages. Some alerts are blank, while others let users know there was a problem loading Mail.

At this time, Apple's System Status page is not reporting any outages. It's not clear how many people are experiencing problems with Mail, but not everyone is affected.

Tag: iCloud

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple’s iCloud Backup Service Experiencing Outage

According to Apple's System Status website and multiple reports sent in by MacRumors readers, Apple's iCloud Backup service is unavailable for some users. Apple's site says iCloud backup is down for "less than 1 percent of users," but those affected have been unable to restore from an iCloud backup since yesterday.

Customers impacted by the iCloud outage who attempt to restore an iOS device using a backup are seeing the process hang while in progress, with the restore failing to complete. iCloud backups can still be made from iOS devices, so data is safe, but affected users will not be able to restore from backups until Apple's servers are back up. In some cases, existing iCloud backups are also not showing up on new devices.


Apple employees have been telling customers to wait it out and set up recently purchased iPhones and iPads as new devices rather than restoring from an existing backup.

Apple's iCloud Backup service has been experiencing issues since 8:00 a.m. yesterday morning, and it is not clear when a fix will be implemented. We'll update this post when the problem is resolved.


Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Drops 2TB iCloud Storage Price to $9.99, Eliminates 1TB Option

Following today's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote that saw the debut of new software and hardware products, Apple has updated and simplified its iCloud storage pricing tiers.

The 1TB storage option has been eliminated, while the 2TB storage option has dropped in price to $9.99 per month, which is what 1TB of storage was previously priced at. Essentially, at the highest data tiers, customers are getting more storage space for less money. Pricing for Apple's 50GB and 200GB iCloud storage plans remains unchanged.

The new pricing tiers in the United States:

- 50GB: $0.99
- 200GB: $2.99
- 2TB: $9.99

While U.S. prices are listed above, the same changes have been made in all countries where iCloud storage is available. 1TB storage options have been eliminated across the board, while 2TBs of storage is now available at the lower 1TB cost.

Many users have been hoping Apple will increase the free iCloud storage option, but following today's update, free iCloud space continues to cap out at 5GB. In iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, Apple is offering an option to share a 200GB or 2TB iCloud storage plan with family members, which is perhaps the reason behind the price drop.

The new storage plans are available immediately on all iOS devices.

(Thanks, Michael!)

Tag: iCloud

Discuss this article in our forums

ElcomSoft Claims It’s Able to Recover Deleted iCloud Notes Well Past Apple’s 30-Day Window

Russian software company ElcomSoft today claimed in a blog post that iCloud notes marked as deleted are being stored on Apple's servers well past the advertised 30-day period they are kept in the "Recently Deleted" folder.


ElcomSoft said it used an updated version of its Phone Breaker tool, version 6.5, to recover dozens of iCloud notes deleted more than a month ago. ElcomSoft said many of the notes were deleted a few weeks past the 30-day window, but in some cases, it was allegedly able to extract notes deleted "several months ago."

When a user deletes a note in Apple's Notes app, it's moved to the "Recently Deleted" folder, which explicitly states that "notes are permanently deleted after 30 days." Likewise, a support document on Apple's website says users can view and recover notes for up to 30 days before they're permanently deleted.

However, ElcomSoft CEO Vladimir Katalov said the oldest note it was able to retrieve was deleted around five years ago:
"We did it again," says Vladimir Katalov, ElcomSoft CEO. "After recovering deleted photos and Safari browsing history from iCloud, we now add the ability to recover deleted notes from the same source regardless of how much time has passed after the deletion. The oldest record we've been able to pull was deleted back in 2012."
In its blog post, ElcomSoft said it was able to extract 334 notes from an iPhone with only 288 notes stored on it, including those in the "Recently Deleted" folder. In other words, ElcomSoft claims it was able to recover 46 notes deleted more than 30 days ago, and that was only one example.


Nevertheless, ElcomSoft said that its ability to extract iCloud notes deleted more than 30 days ago is "not necessarily" guaranteed. "While some of our test accounts did indeed contain deleted notes going all the way back to 2015, some other accounts contained much less than that," it explained.

ElcomSoft said its Phone Breaker tool is the only software it knows of that can be used to recover iCloud notes deleted more than 30 days ago. It also said the latest version of its Phone Viewer tool is needed to view them. The tools start at $79 each and appear to be compatible with both Mac and Windows.

To extract and view deleted notes, ElcomSoft says all someone has to do is launch Phone Breaker version 6.5 or newer, click "Download Synced Data from iCloud," authenticate with an Apple ID and password or a binary authentication token, wait for the download to complete, and open the file in Phone Viewer.

ElcomSoft's Phone Viewer tool appears to show recovered iCloud notes

ElcomSoft said "there is no doubt Apple will fix the current issue," but it didn't confirm if it has been in contact with the company. MacRumors has opted not to use the Phone Breaker tool out of an abundance of caution. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment today.

Last year, ElcomSoft generated headlines when it claimed Apple "secretly" syncs Phone and FaceTime call history logs on iCloud, even with backups turned off. In a statement, Apple said it offers call history syncing "as a convenience to our customers so that they can return calls from any of their devices."

In February, ElcomSoft also found that iCloud was allegedly storing deleted Safari browser history for a long period of time, ranging from several months to over a year. Forbes reported that Apple quietly "started purging older history records" once the news broke, but Apple never officially commented.


Discuss this article in our forums

Third-Party Apps Will Need App-Specific Passwords for iCloud Access From June 15

App-specific passwords are set to become a mandatory requirement for third-party apps that access iCloud user data, according to an Apple Support email sent out today.

Currently, app-specific passwords are used to allow non-native apps like email clients to sign in to iCloud accounts that are protected by two-factor authentication. The security measure ensures that users can still link up their iCloud account to apps and services not provided by Apple, while also avoiding the need to disclose their Apple ID password to third parties.

However, app-specific passwords will become a basic requirement from June 15, according to Apple. The policy change basically means that users who want to continue using third-party apps with their iCloud account will have to enable two-factor authentication and generate individual passwords for each app.
Beginning on 15 June, app-specific passwords will be required to access your iCloud data using third-party apps such as Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, or other mail, contacts and calendar services not provided by Apple.

If you are already signed in to a third-party app using your primary Apple ID password, you will be signed out automatically when this change takes effect. You will need to generate an app-specific password and sign in again.
Two-factor authentication ensures that you're the only person who can access your Apple account, even if someone knows your password. To turn it on from any iOS device running iOS 10.3 or later, open the Settings app, tap your name at the top, and then tap Password & Security.

If you're using iOS 10.2 or earlier, you can enable it from Settings -> iCloud -> Apple ID -> Password & Security. If you're on a Mac, go to System Preferences -> iCloud -> Account Details, click Security, and enable two-factor authentication from there.

To generate an app-specific password, sign into your Apple ID account page (https://appleid.apple.com), go to App-Specific Passwords under Security, and click Generate Password.


Discuss this article in our forums