“Apple Inc has often displayed uncanny timing, with its well-orchestrated end-of-year iPhone releases,” Christina Farr and Edwin Chan report for Reuters. “But the leak of racy celebrity photos in the past few days put the company in the unusual position of having to mend its image just days before a highly anticipated Sept. 9 product launch.”

“Nude photos of Hollywood celebrities, including Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, posted on Internet forums by unknown hackers has sparked condemnation from stars and their publicists, and prompted an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Farr and Chan report. “Apple said on Tuesday the hacks were the result of targeted attacks on accounts and not a direct breach of its systems. The company referred to such attempts as ‘all too common on the Internet.'”

“But the highly public affair remains potentially one of Apple’s worst public crises in years. Speculation continues to spread on blogs about flaws in the iCloud service, which lets computer and mobile users store photos, documents and other data so they can be accessed from a plethora of devices they own,” Farr and Chan report. “In the past three days, 17,000 mentions on Twitter were related to the security breach as of Tuesday afternoon. 7,600 of these tweets specifically mention Apple. Some of the negative words associated with mentions of Apple’s iCloud service include ‘violation,’ ‘disgusting violation,’ ‘criminality,’ ‘failure,’ ‘glitch’ and ‘disappointment.’ …At its upcoming event, Apple is expected to announce the launch of a mobile payments service alongside its iPhone 6.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote yesterday:

Bad, bad, bad optics. In fact, it’s tough to imagine worse optics for Apple if they do indeed hope to debut a mobile payment system in a week. Yes, these celebrities should have used two-step verification for Apple ID if they wanted to keep their accounts secure, but there are no two ways about it: Failing to prevent brute-force iCloud password attacks long ago was a tremendous oversight for the world’s most valuable company.

Apple needs to be equated with security and privacy. Today, they are not. Today, in the minds of the general public, Apple is insecure and nothing is private on Apple devices. Right or wrong, it’s doesn’t matter: These days, perception is everything. Once the narrative is out there, it’s very difficult to change (see: Apple Maps). Apple’s rather dysfunctional and often too-slow-to-react PR department has a challenge to rival Antennagate on their plates, one week ahead of the company’s most important events ever. Good luck, Apple!

Public Service Announcement: Use two-step verification for Apple ID to keep your personal information as secure as possible. More info here.

Always use unique passwords, do not reuse passwords for different services, and use Apple’s Keychain Access and iCloud Keychain to create and manage them. When used properly, this system works like a dream.

Related articles:
Apple denies iCloud breach – September 3, 2014
How easy is it to crack into an Apple iCloud account? We tried to find out – September 3, 2014
Celeb nudes: Comprehensive review of forum posts reveals no mention of ‘Find My iPhone’ brute force technique – September 2, 2014
Apple’s iCloud is secure; weak passwords and gullible users are not – September 2, 2014
Apple: No iCloud breach in celebrity nude photos leak – September 2, 2014
FBI, Apple investigating alleged iCloud hack of celebrity nude, sex photos and videos – September 2, 2014
Celebrity or not, Apple isn’t responsible for your nude photos – September 2, 2014
Apple ‘actively investigating’ Jennifer Lawrence, other nude celebrity photos hack – September 1, 2014
Apple’s iCloud not likely the sole source of leaked Jennifer Lawrence, other nude celebrity photos and videos – September 1, 2014