Does your business have a strategy for protecting sensitive client data from hackers?

A hacker or group of hackers known as the "Turkish Crime Family" is attempting to extort Apple over potentially hundreds of millions of email accounts and iPhone passwords, demanding $100,000 in iTunes gift cards or $75,000 in cryptocurrency (specifically Bitcoin or Ethereum).

If Apple doesn't pay their demands, the group is threatening to factory reset some 200 million iPhones and reset a number of iCloud accounts by April 7. Apple has not yet publicly commented on the matter.

In a conversation with Vice Media's tech publication Motherboard, which broke the story early Tuesday, one of the hackers reportedly said, "I just want my money and thought this would be an interesting report that a lot of Apple customers would be interested in reading and hearing."

From Motherboard's article on the hacking:

The hackers provided screenshots of alleged emails between the group and members of Apple's security team. One also gave Motherboard access to an email account allegedly used to communicate with Apple.

"Are you willing to share a sample of the data set?" an unnamed member of Apple's security team wrote to the hackers a week ago, according to one of the emails stored in the account. (According to the email headers, the return-path of the email is to an address with the domain).

The hackers also uploaded a YouTube video of them allegedly logging into some of the stolen accounts. The hacker appears to access an elderly woman's iCloud account, which includes backed-up photos, and the ability to remotely wipe the device.

Since the story went live, the hackers set up a website, a Twitter account, and have made public an email address for press inquiries.

It's unclear the significance of the threat as there have been mixed reports on exactly how many accounts the Turkish Crime family has it its possession - one representative said around 300 million, another stated some 559 million, and a recent tweet by the organization itself cited 200 million.

This wouldn't be the first time Apple has experienced the wrath of hackers.

Recall the iCloud hack of 2014 that resulted in the leak of hundreds of celebrity nude photos.

In 2013, the Apple Developer site experienced what was initially considered a "hack," though the Turkish security researcher who claimed responsibility for the incident explained his efforts were only to point out vulnerabilities in Apple's system.

According to a report by The Guardian that year, Ibrahim Balic said he reported the vulnerabilities he uncovered. As a result, Apple overhauled its developer systems, updated server software, and rebuilt its developer information database.

For businesses, this is yet another reminder to make sure your accounts are secure.

Using different, elaborate passwords to protect your accounts is made easier with tools like LastPass and 1Password. Encrypt sensitive messages when necessary. Use VPNs to securely use public WiFi.

We'll wait and see what Apple does in response to this alleged hacking, and keep watch for what the Turkish Crime Family might do next.

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