It wasn't long at all after personal and explicit photos of some 100 celebrities started making the rounds when people started attributing the leak to a breach of Apple's iCloud storage system. After a nearly two day long investigation, Apple has released a statement to try and clear things up -- to hear the folks in Cupertino tell it, the incident was a "very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions" in which some celebrity accounts were "compromised" and that none of its systems were breached in the process. In other words, we may not be looking at a savvy hack exploiting a Find my iPhone security flaw so much as some very dedicated account brute-forcing and phishing. Of course, that's not to say that the pictures in question (well, the ones that weren't taken with Android devices anyway) didn't come from iCloud, just that hackers apparently didn't directly crack the sanctity of Apple's services.
The exact vector of entry remains unknown right now, but AnonIB, one of the 4chan-esque imageboards that appears to be involved in the proliferation of this mess, seems to have no shortage of people who were ready and willing to "rip" iCloud accounts in exchange for the right sort of loot. Of course, one has to wonder about the role semantics plays in all this -- while Apple's systems may not have been technically "breached", they may still have been cajoled into giving up user credentials with tools like the now defunct ibrute. In any case, you can check out the full statement after the jump for yourself.
We wanted to provide an update to our investigation into the theft of photos of certain celebrities. When we learned of the theft, we were outraged and immediately mobilized Apple's engineers to discover the source. Our customers' privacy and security are of utmost importance to us. 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, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet. None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple's systems including iCloud® or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved.
To protect against this type of attack, we advise all users to always use a stong password and enable two-step verification. Both of these are addressed on our website at http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4232.