As Apple launched a security upgrade for users of Apple ID, reports began to surface that it was simply too easy for thieves and hackers to access accounts using only an email address and date of birth. In response, Apple temporarily shut down its password reset system to resolve the easy exploit.
The reset system was taken offline on Friday, just as we were reporting that the two-step authentication option now allows security-conscious users of iTunes, the App Store, iBooks and other Apple services to require verification of new devices. That means users must get a security code sent by text message or Apple's Find My iPhone feature before that unknown device can access accounts, much the way many banks verify user accounts.
Growing More Guarded
Two-step authentication as well as two-factor identification -- in which users must answer a security question, input a jumbled word, or recognize an image -- are increasingly being added to web sites and services to thwart hackers, like those who commandeered the Twitter accounts of Burger King and Jeep last month, and sent a stream of malicious messages.
An irresponsible web site Friday posted detailed instructions on using tomfoolery to get into other users accounts, as reported by the online magazine, The Verge, which said the feat was accomplished by pasting in a modified URL while providing a date of birth in the password reset process. It did not identify or link to the source of the information. The Verge also noted that you can change your birthdate in account settings.
The two-step verification process would prevent the exploit, but it evidently takes up to three days for this system to take affect. So, those who signed up Friday will have to wait a bit. Meanwhile, if you forgot your password, no music, apps or e-books for you, until the system is back online.
Even Cupertino Can Goof
In a widely reported statement, Apple said, "[We take] customer privacy very seriously. We are aware of this issue, and working on a fix." Our attempt to get further comment on Sunday was unsuccessful before publication.
Even though it is one of the biggest tech leaders in the world and widely hailed for innovation, Apple is prone to some rare but embarassing glitches and fails, including the disastrous mapping feature that came with the iPhone 5 last year and led the company's CEO Tim Cook to recommend that customers use Google Maps instead. The iPhone 4 also had the notorious "antennagate problem" that caused disruption of calls for some users when their hands bridged the antennas for and voice calls. The problem was eliminated in later models.
Apple was also recently sued in a class action alleging that some screens in MacBook Pro computers using LG panels experience ghosting or burn-in of some images when the display is not left unchanged too long.