A teen in Melbourne, Australia was able to hack into Apple’s networks and retrieve over 90 GB of data in the course of a year. Investigators found “authorized keys,” likely private authentication keys, on the teen’s computer. He used VPNs to gain access to Apple servers to download this data which he saved in a folder conveniently named “hacky hack hack.” After gaining access to Apple servers, he then bragged about it on WhatsApp.
Apple is known to be a security-conscious company. This teen must have been very smart or at least very lucky to accomplish the breach. He also told the investigators that he dreamed of working for Apple, which Apple may want to consider once his sentence is finished.
After Apple detected the intrusion they contacted the FBI who in turn contacted the Australian Federal Police. All three parties worked together to investigate the breach and they caught the teen soon after that. His name was not released because neither the teen nor Apple wanted to release any case details, and the hacker is a minor. Furthermore, his lawyer said that he is well known in the hacker community and any details released from the case may put him in danger.
The Australian Federal Police raided the teen’s house with a search warrant and found Apple computers, mobile phones and hard drives, including devices with serial numbers that matched those from the attack. With so much evidence against him he pleaded guilty in court and is now awaiting sentencing.
This incident shows that even Apple, a known security-conscious company, can become compromised. Companies today need to be prepared when the attack comes which is no longer a matter of if but when. Having a recovery system set up beforehand is critical to reduce downtime and lost profits. Most experts recommend that recovery tools and services make up at least 20% of your network security budget to quickly recover from any loss of data and to prevent downtime. Paired with a strong defense-in-depth strategy can keep your business running even when the teenage hackers come knocking.