Thursday, August 9, 2012

Apple, Amazon Revamp Security After Journalist's Files, Gadgets Hacked

Posted By on Thu, Aug 9, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Amazon and Apple both tightened restrictions Wednesday after journalist Mat Honan's identity was hugely compromised by hackers.

Amazons quickly changed its policy, so that customer account changes could no longer be processed over the phone. Apple, for its part, has instituted a company-wide freeze on phone requests for account password changes.

The fallout came on the heels of an article published Monday by Wired of Honan's experience. titled "How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking."

Amazon used to let people change their account data over the phone as long as they had a name, email address and postal address, all things often readily available online, possibly leading to more Honan-like events. But the company has now changed its rules and no longer allows customers to adjust account details over the phone, reported Wired.

In his 3,500 word essay, Honan explained how the Amazon loophole allowed hacker Phobia and others to take over his Google and Twitter accounts and clean out his MacBook, iPad and iPhone. Honan said he got his Twitter account back and is working with Apple to retrieve the content of his hard drive.

"We have investigated the reported exploit, and can confirm that the exploit has been closed as of yesterday afternoon," an Amazon spokesman told CNet.

Apple has also had to address concerns, because after the hackers had figured out Honan's email address, they simply called Apple to change the account's password. And through the company's iCloud, hackers quickly gained access to all of the reporter's Apple gadgets.

One of the alleged hackers involved, a 19-year-old known as "Phobia," told Honan by instant message that he chose his account because he liked his @mat Twitter handle.

Phobia also claimed the hackers pulled the stunt to highlight security flaws, "so eventually every1 can overcome hackers," wrote the alleged hacker.

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