Australian teen hacked Apple's corporate network, accessed data and user accounts

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2018
Teen pleads guilty to downloading 90GB of secure files from Apple's internal systems and accessing customer accounts in repeated hacks from his suburban home.

Australian app store


A teenage hacker in Melbourne, Australia, repeatedly broke into Apple's computer systems and downloaded approximately 90 gigabytes of secure files and accessed customer accounts before he was caught. That's according to a report Thursday by The Age, which cited court proceedings.

The hacker was an Apple fan who "dreamed" of working for the company, the newspaper said. The defendant pleaded guilty, with sentencing set for next month.

Apple last year alerted the FBI, who in turn coordinated the case with Australian authorities. A prosecutor said that Apple was "very sensitive about publicity," with the case successfully kept out of the media until the court proceedings this week.

Aside from the 90 gigabytes of data, it's unknown how widespread the breach was, what type of accounts or other information were accessed, or whether the breach was worldwide or in any way localized to Australia.

Apple has not commented on the case.

"Hacky hack hack"

The young hacker, whose name was not released for legal reasons, was caught after his home was raided last year by authorities, who found his files in a computer folder marked "hacky hack hack." Australian Federal Police also seized two Apple laptops, and found that the accused had obtained "authorized keys" to access Apple's systems.

It is unknown if any of the acquired data was provided to third parties. It is understood the hacker communicated with others on Whatsapp about the intrusion, though the content of the conversations was not released.

Earlier this week, Australia's government scheduled a debate over whether to force a weakening of encryption by Apple and other companies. In June, Apple was fined $6.7 million by Australian regulators over iPhone and iPad repair practices.
albegarc
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    What kind of Apple fan uses Whatsapp ,a Facebook product?
    jbdragonmike54chiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 27
    Time to hire him! Smart people need to be channeled into good ends, not put in prison. Hire him and keep him occupied by hacking into Russia or doing other state espionage.
    [Deleted User]muthuk_vanalingamlostkiwiviclauyycmanfred zornpaxmanols
  • Reply 3 of 27
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,575member
    A N Y T H I N G  can be hacked or broken into if somebody wants to badly enough.

    The trick is not to keep them out, but to make it hard enough that they go elsewhere.
    manfred zornols
  • Reply 4 of 27
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 646editor
    What kind of Apple fan uses Whatsapp ,a Facebook product?
    Network effects are powerful. Outside the US, Whatsapp is the common way to message where FB messenger, Google Hangouts/Chat/Allo/etc. never caught on. You use what all your contacts use.
    maciekskontaktalbegarclazybug7lostkiwi
  • Reply 5 of 27
    vmarks said:
    What kind of Apple fan uses Whatsapp ,a Facebook product?
    Network effects are powerful. Outside the US, Whatsapp is the common way to message where FB messenger, Google Hangouts/Chat/Allo/etc. never caught on. You use what all your contacts use.
    Very true. But I rather use SMS, when contacting non iOS folks.
    SMS is much more universal than ‘Whatsapp’
    Although it is much less secure than iMessage. 
    jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 27
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,608member
    greg uvan said:
    Time to hire him! Smart people need to be channeled into good ends, not put in prison. Hire him and keep him occupied by hacking into Russia or doing other state espionage.
    That’s probably exactly what will happen if he comes completely clean on how he did it. It all depends on his personality and whether he can reform himself. Some can, others can’t. Take Kevin Mitnick for example, now running his own security consulting company.
    laleschiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 27
    vmarks said:
    What kind of Apple fan uses Whatsapp ,a Facebook product?
    Network effects are powerful. Outside the US, Whatsapp is the common way to message where FB messenger, Google Hangouts/Chat/Allo/etc. never caught on. You use what all your contacts use.
    Very true. But I rather use SMS, when contacting non iOS folks.
    SMS is much more universal than ‘Whatsapp’
    Although it is much less secure than iMessage. 
    That is only if you can use SMS. Apple locks you in iCloud ince tried on iMessage (standard on their mobile) and instead your phone number for identification and standard telecommunication protcols they start using their own protocol with Apple account (mis)delivering messages to random mobile devices that are or were once registered with you. That happened to many and to me as well (messages from a friend from Law Enforcement in the USA were delivered to someone from family in Europe who I gave iPad as souvenir). Unregistering is tough (their online tool does not seem to work and you have to call them). Apple had lawsuit related to this issue and it still have problems with unregistering people when they leave Apple mobile devices (I have friend who switched back to Samsung, but I cannot send him SMS from iPhone because Apple still recognizes that he was on iCloud with iMessenger while on iPhone once - he does not give damn about calling Apple anymore, but there you go we cant reach him via simple SMS).

    Just in case some smart Alec comes forward with "intelligent advice" that one could call Apple to resolve the issue... well I did and many did. No help. Visionary is visionary - does not give damn about solving fundamental problems first.
    muthuk_vanalingamavon b7
  • Reply 8 of 27
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,563member
    vmarks said:
    What kind of Apple fan uses Whatsapp ,a Facebook product?
    Network effects are powerful. Outside the US, Whatsapp is the common way to message where FB messenger, Google Hangouts/Chat/Allo/etc. never caught on. You use what all your contacts use.
    Very true. But I rather use SMS, when contacting non iOS folks.
    SMS is much more universal than ‘Whatsapp’
    Although it is much less secure than iMessage. 
    FYI:  An “iMessage” (aka “text”) is what you send when using the Messages app. The program itself hasn’t been called iMessage for years.
  • Reply 9 of 27
    vmarks said:
    What kind of Apple fan uses Whatsapp ,a Facebook product?
    Network effects are powerful. Outside the US, Whatsapp is the common way to message where FB messenger, Google Hangouts/Chat/Allo/etc. never caught on. You use what all your contacts use.
    Very true. But I rather use SMS, when contacting non iOS folks.
    SMS is much more universal than ‘Whatsapp’
    Although it is much less secure than iMessage. 
    How is SMS much more universal? Whatsapp can work on any Wifi-only device including a desktop PC whereas SMS is restricted to devices with a mobile number. 
  • Reply 10 of 27
    adm1 said:
    vmarks said:
    What kind of Apple fan uses Whatsapp ,a Facebook product?
    Network effects are powerful. Outside the US, Whatsapp is the common way to message where FB messenger, Google Hangouts/Chat/Allo/etc. never caught on. You use what all your contacts use.
    Very true. But I rather use SMS, when contacting non iOS folks.
    SMS is much more universal than ‘Whatsapp’
    Although it is much less secure than iMessage. 
    How is SMS much more universal? Whatsapp can work on any Wifi-only device including a desktop PC whereas SMS is restricted to devices with a mobile number. 
    Because except maybe US, text messages is a standard feature you get, when you get a standard plant and standard mobile phone. On the other hand, whatsapp is absolutely horrible in the way they identify a personal account. For example, my wife got someone else's account one time. In addition to that, whatsapp had some serious failures with properly encrypting the data....
    racerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 27
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,364member
    vmarks said:
    What kind of Apple fan uses Whatsapp ,a Facebook product?
    Network effects are powerful. Outside the US, Whatsapp is the common way to message where FB messenger, Google Hangouts/Chat/Allo/etc. never caught on. You use what all your contacts use.
    Very true. But I rather use SMS, when contacting non iOS folks.
    SMS is much more universal than ‘Whatsapp’
    Although it is much less secure than iMessage. 
    Well then I guess you’re out of luck if you want to actually speak to those people and hear their voice, much less video chat with them, or message them via WiFi. Not to mention one number for everything.
    edited August 2018
  • Reply 12 of 27
    vmarks said:
    What kind of Apple fan uses Whatsapp ,a Facebook product?
    Network effects are powerful. Outside the US, Whatsapp is the common way to message where FB messenger, Google Hangouts/Chat/Allo/etc. never caught on. You use what all your contacts use.
    Very true. But I rather use SMS, when contacting non iOS folks.
    SMS is much more universal than ‘Whatsapp’
    Although it is much less secure than iMessage. 
    In the Netherlands it seems everybody is using Whatsapp.
  • Reply 13 of 27
    78Bandit78Bandit Posts: 217member
    I'm assuming the customer data didn't include personally identifiable information like a social security number, credit card number, or bank account number.  If it did then Apple didn't follow U.S. law in notifying customers of the breach in a timely manner.

    One would think in an abundance of caution Apple would have at least sent out password reset notifications to any affected customers.
  • Reply 14 of 27
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,414member
    78Bandit said:
    I'm assuming the customer data didn't include personally identifiable information like a social security number, credit card number, or bank account number.  If it did then Apple didn't follow U.S. law in notifying customers of the breach in a timely manner.

    One would think in an abundance of caution Apple would have at least sent out password reset notifications to any affected customers.

    Apple never ask for SS # but everything else they have.
  • Reply 15 of 27
    Very true. But I rather use SMS, when contacting non iOS folks.
    SMS is much more universal than ‘Whatsapp’
    Although it is much less secure than iMessage. 
    In some (European) countries SMS is expensive, and often not included in basic mobile plans, phone calls are also limited, 1 hour of talk a month is common. However very large amounts of data are included, and chat and videos apps (WhatsApp) don't count against the data usage. For that reason, and others, as others have pointed out, WhatsApp is the go to standard, not only for texts, but also for "calls".
  • Reply 16 of 27
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,226member
    When these type of articles appear, I often am unclear about what was actually done by the criminal. This article says: "Australian Federal Police also seized two Apple laptops, and found that the accused had obtained "authorized keys" to access Apple's systems."

    So...it would seem the criminal simply obtained some sort of password or keys to access a computer system without proper authorization. I don't see that as "hacking" but just poor management by the owner of the system. To be sure, accessing a computer system without proper authorization (e.g. use of another's password) is a crime in the US. 

    jony0
  • Reply 17 of 27
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,894member
    In all likelihood he had an Apple insider, I.e., rogue employee, who provided him with the keys. Insiders have always been the greatest threat. 
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 18 of 27
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,185member
    vmarks said:
    What kind of Apple fan uses Whatsapp ,a Facebook product?
    Network effects are powerful. Outside the US, Whatsapp is the common way to message where FB messenger, Google Hangouts/Chat/Allo/etc. never caught on. You use what all your contacts use.
    Very true. But I rather use SMS, when contacting non iOS folks.
    SMS is much more universal than ‘Whatsapp’
    Although it is much less secure than iMessage. 
    In the Netherlands it seems everybody is using Whatsapp.
    Same in Spain. That inludes iPhone users.
  • Reply 19 of 27
    vmarks said:
    What kind of Apple fan uses Whatsapp ,a Facebook product?
    Network effects are powerful. Outside the US, Whatsapp is the common way to message where FB messenger, Google Hangouts/Chat/Allo/etc. never caught on. You use what all your contacts use.
    Very true. But I rather use SMS, when contacting non iOS folks.
    SMS is much more universal than ‘Whatsapp’
    Although it is much less secure than iMessage. 
    Probably the main reason people use WhatsApp over SMS - beside the price - is the group functionality. It also breaks down international barriers if you want to message with a variety of people in different countries and don't want to pay international rates. And from what I can tell, a lot of people don't even have plans that support MMS so photo sharing via WhatsApp is better. It's the one Facebook app I have on my phone although I do sometimes feel a bit in the wilderness not having FB Messenger.
  • Reply 20 of 27
    vmarks said:
    What kind of Apple fan uses Whatsapp ,a Facebook product?
    Network effects are powerful. Outside the US, Whatsapp is the common way to message where FB messenger, Google Hangouts/Chat/Allo/etc. never caught on. You use what all your contacts use.
    I couldn´t agree more with what you said, outside the US, iPhones are not so popular because they are very expensive and a lot of people uses Android chep phones and therefore they use Whats App to comunicate with their contacts.

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