A data breach is a cyber attack wherein sensitive and protected information is accessed without the owner’s authorization.
Of course, keeping the data protected is more important than ever before in today’s digital world.
With more and more social, economic, and government activities being conducted online, the data breach has become a familiar term and we hear about it quite often nowadays.
With that out of the way, Apple is a popular multinational company that manufactures smartphones, tablets, wearables, and PCs.
Without an iota of doubt, Apple is one of the most recognizable names in the smartphone and tablet industry.
Predictably then, there is so much to debate when it comes to the Apple data breach.
Apple Data Breach Timeline & History up to 2023
In this article, we will take a look at all the data breaches Apple has experienced over the years.
Let’s dig into the Apple data breach timeline.
Sep 2021: Pegasus Spyware iPhone Hack
The Pegasus spyware iPhone hack is the most recent Apple data breach that took place in September 2021.
Researchers revealed that Pegasus, spyware developed by an Israeli company, NSO, can successfully break into iPhones without any user interaction at all.
Spyware is a kind of malware that can collect data regarding a user or the device straight from the host machine.
It is usually spread via links. When a user clicks on a link, it activates the spyware, which allows the hacker to spy on all the information.
However, unlike traditional spyware, Pegasus does not require any user interaction.
It uses zero-click vulnerability, which means that it can automatically activate itself on an iPhone without the user initiating any action.
Of course, it was quite concerning as the users do not even know if they are being spied on.
Seemingly, there was no way users could prevent it, as they did not do anything to activate it in the first place.
The Pegasus spyware is rated as one of the most sophisticated spyware ever. It has reportedly infiltrated thousands of phones all over the world.
Once it enters your iPhone, it provides complete remote control to the hacker.
Hackers can easily access your personal data, including your conversations, SMS, and other data stored on your iPhone.
It even lets the hacker record your phone calls and even use your device’s camera and microphone without notifying you.
In addition, research suggests that it is powerful enough to download photos and videos from the targeted iPhone.
According to the NSO group, the Pegasus spyware is developed to help governments eliminate terrorism and enforce the law.
However, it was later found on the phones of politicians, journalists, and social activists.
Apple didn’t take long to overcome this security flaw and fixed it soon in the next update.
Make sure to update your phone to avoid this Apple data breach.
Data Breach in January 2019
Not too long before the Pegasus Apple data breach, Google discovered another Apple data breach in January 2019.
According to reports, Google discovered a breach that had been exposing the Apple users’ data to unauthorized people.
Through this breach, iPhones were infiltrated when users visited the malicious websites.
Once they entered a website, hackers could easily access their private information, including their messages, call records, payment details, and whatnot?
Google reported this exploit to Apple as soon as it discovered it, and it was only a matter of time before Apple eliminated it.
However, the company never revealed the number of phones that were affected by this Apple data breach.
The company stated that this exploit was taken care of in two months and did not affect many users.
The websites that were used to hack the iPhones had Uighur community-related content.
September 2015: When XcodeGhost Infected the App Store
Another incident of Apple data breach occurred in September 2015 when XcodeGhost malware sneaked into the App Store and spooked millions of iPhone users.
It was the first major attack on the App Store. It gets its name from Xcode, which is a library designed to develop software for Apple products.
The Xcode library could be downloaded from Apple’s official servers, which is the right way to install it.
However, due to internet connectivity issues, a group of developers from China installed it from illegitimate means.
That version of Xcode was tampered with, and as a result, the apps made by those developers were also infected.
Originally, the infected apps were limited to China only. However, it affected users from all over the world as time passed.
When users installed those apps, they were not installing those apps alone, but also the malware.
From slowdowns to the hacking of private information, this Apple data breach caused many issues.
Youtube videos and websites at that time enlisted the infected apps so that users could avoid installing them.
It is said that around 128 million iPhone users suffered as a result of this Apple data breach.
The malware was not limited to China only, and 18 million users in the USA were also compromised.
August 2015: KeyRaider Data Breach
KeyRaider is a malware that affects jailbroken iPhones mainly and allows the attacker to steal information from the targeted devices.
It was reported by a well-known cyber security firm, Palo Alto Networks.
With this malware, the hackers were able to gain access to users’ valuable information, such as credit card credentials, addresses, private keys, and other information.
It enabled the hackers to make purchases at your expense. KeyRaider affected over 225,000 Apple users worldwide.
Although the majority of the affected people belonged to China, users from 17 other countries also faced problems.
This makes it one of the biggest data breaches in history.
Having said that, it is pertinent to mention that this breach was specific to jailbroken devices only.
Jailbreak refers to modifying a device to remove software restrictions imposed by the manufacturing company.
It is usually done to gain access to non-approved applications.
September 2014: When Nude Pictures of Celebrities Were Leaked
In September 2014, hundreds of nude pictures of mostly female celebrities were leaked on the internet.
It affected hundreds of celebrities, including Jennifer Lawerence, Kim Kardashian, and Kate Upton.
It was by far the largest breach of the private pictures of celebrities, and the scandal got so much limelight that it was investigated by the FBI.
Investigations revealed that the hackers gained the private pictures of celebrities by exploiting a flaw in Apple iCloud, which allowed for unlimited password attempts.
The investigation led to several raids and arrests across the USA.
The private pictures were originally leaked on a website where users could post pictures anonymously.
It had a board that was dedicated to posting stolen nude photos, whether stolen from mobile phones or hacked.
The celebrity nude pictures were only posted once in a blue moon. However, a member collected all the pictures and then sold that collection for money.
The more famous a celebrity, the higher the price of their pictures. The pictures broke the internet and went viral.
Thousands of pictures were released in a few minutes, and people were blown away by how many nude pictures of their favorite celebrities existed.
According to Apple, the Apple iCloud was not hacked and the nudes leak was the result of a password breach.
The hackers only targeted specific celebrities and exploited a flaw to gain access to their private pictures.
After all the buzz this whole situation created, Apple further improved its iCloud security.
It introduced two-factor authentication to protect the users from such incidents in the future.
July 2013: When Dev Center Was Breached
Apple dev center is a platform for developers to develop software for Apple devices.
In 2013, it was accessed by a hacker and the service was temporarily unavailable.
Apple confirmed that the dev center was hacked and notified its developers via mail.
While the dev center hack did not affect Apple users, it did expose the information of over 275,000 developers to hackers.
The hacker exploited a security flaw in the dev center and exposed the names and IDs of the developers, along with their email addresses.
Ironically, the hacker did not have any bad intentions.
In fact, he wanted to highlight the vulnerabilities in the dev center system for the sake of its protection.
He later reported his findings to Apple, so that it could take action and prevent any data breach cases in the future.
The developers were later asked to reset their passwords. While the passwords were not compromised, the chances were that the login credentials were visible to the intruder.
However, Apple did not confirm it. Furthermore, the company claimed that the private information of the developers is safe.
August 2012: 12 Million Apple Device IDs Leaked
In August 2012, a hacker group Antisec leaked more than 12 million Apple device IDs on the internet.
These device IDs were alleged to have been stolen from a laptop of an FBI agent.
Antisec claimed that they accessed the laptop and siphoned off all the data from an FBI laptop, where it was stored to spy on citizens.
On the other hand, the app publisher company, Blue Toad, admitted that it was the source of the leak.
It conducted a third-party investigation, which suggested that the IDs were stolen from the company, rather than an FBI laptop.
In the light of the investigation, the company’s CEO contradicted the statement issued by Antisec.
Moreover, the FBI also turned down the statement made by the hacker group. However, it is still unclear how the hackers hacked Blue Toad.
Having said that, this Apple data breach did not raise many questions about Apple’s security, as it wasn’t Apple’s fault.
Whether the data was stolen from a laptop or Blue Toad, Apple had no role in the device IDs leak case.
However, that does not mean that iPhone users were not affected.
June 2010: AT&T Data Breach
In June 2010, a hacker group called Goatse Security exploited a security flaw in the AT&T mobile network.
This compromised the email addresses of over 114,000 iPad users. AT&T took responsibility and explained the system vulnerability that caused this Apple data breach.
Allegedly, the hacker group organized the brute-force attack to get the email addresses.
Like the device IDs leak case, Apple was not involved in the AT&T data breach.
Expectedly then, it did not draw any criticism either. The hacker was arrested and sentenced to five years imprisonment.
These were all the data breaches that occurred in iPhones to date.
Although Apple is quite serious about its users’ privacy, hackers have always found a way to access private information.
There are no data breaches apart from the aforementioned ones.
Has Apple Ever Had a Data Breach?
Yes, Apple has experienced lots of data breaches over the years.
The first data breach recorded took place in 2010, while the last one occurred in Sep 2021.
From iPhones to iPads, a variety of Apple products have been hacked where users’ private information was compromised.
Can Apple iPhones Get Spyware?
Yes, iPhones can be spied on with the help of spyware.
It’s not common, but it does exist.
Pegasus is one such example. It is Israeli spyware that can activate itself on the user’s phone and spy on it.
Does Resetting the iPhone Remove Spyware?
Resetting is an effective way of eliminating spyware on your phone. However, it should be your last resort and should only be tried if nothing else works.