As the dust begins to settle on the leaked celebrity image scandal, the likes of Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook may well be breathing a sigh of relief.
While the photos look to have almost certainly been hosted on, and therefore hacked, from Apple’s iCloud the truth is it could have happened to any of them just as easily.
Here’s five reasons why such ‘outrage’ isn’t just bad for the cloud, it is bad for Apple:
1. Tarnishing Apple’s reputation
Apple has been working hard to find its way back to the untouchable days under Jobs’ reign. The worker’s welfare scandals have taken their toll and with android handsets gobbling up market share, particularly in emerging markets, the last thing Apple needs is a global scandal tarnishing its brand.
2. Consumer fear of the Cloud
Most of the big tech brands are betting the foreseeable future on cloud technologies but up until now, consumers have remained blissfully unaware of the potential danger of having so much data held remotely. With Jennifer Lawrence capturing nearly every headline this week, the cloud’s scale and power has been catapulted into the spotlight and consumers may well think twice before trusting brands like Apple with their data so freely in the future.
3. Impact on next week’s big launches
Apple is speculated to be just days away from announcing a mobile payments service along with the launch of iPhone 6 on 9th September. Rumoured to rival Google Wallet and Paypal, this could have been a feather in the cap for the mobile giant, but lingering in the shadow of this week’s bad news, headlines are more likely to be found questioning whether consumers can trust Apple with their banking details.
4. It’s galling saying sorry when it’s not your fault
“After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions... None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud® or Find my iPhone”
So goes the statement from Apple – as details emerge from the investigation into the hack, it seems increasingly likely that the photos were compromised because the users had not placed secure enough measures on their accounts, allowing hackers to crack the passwords. While there’s a lesson for us all in how seriously we need to take personal privacy in a digital age, Apple’s brand will be tarred with culpability just by being the platform upon which this unravelled.
5. It highlights the power of the dark web operators
Despite hacking the accounts of the world’s biggest stars, and thereby dragging the world’s most valuable brand through the mud, the perpetrators remain blissfully anonymous. If the combined legal, financial and technical might of these super-brands cannot uncover the hacker/s involved, consumers will inevitably question what chance they would stand of recovering their own stolen information, a thought which rapidly circles back to asking what the likes of Apple plan to do to protect the data we have so willingly handed over.
Ian Dodson is co-founder and director of the Digital Marketing Institute.