16 Year-Old Apple Fanboy Pleads Guilty...To Hacking Apple

It's just like they say:  "OH THOSE AUSTRALIANS!"

I think they say that, somewhere.  Well maybe not, but anyway if that WERE a saying, this story would definitely apply.  

The Crime

An Australian teenager has pleaded guilty to hacking into the main computer network of Apple downloading big internal files and accessing customer accounts - reportedly because he was a fan of the company.

The Accused

The boy, just 16 years-old from Melbourne city, broke into the company’s central servers from his suburban home many times over a year, all the while downloading 90 gigabytes of "secured" files.  

He also accessed customer accounts without exposing his identity, which is actually pretty impressive.  But the whole "without exposing his identity" thing wouldn't last long.

The FBI was alerted of the intrusion by Apple, and from there the feds contacted the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for investigation.

A Criminal Case...Of Idiocy!

The jig was up for the unidentified minor when the AFP raided his Melbourne home, seizing 2 laptops, a hard drive and a phone.  The files were saved in a folder titled "hacky hack hack."

The story wouldn't be complete without a classic case of criminal idiocy.  The kid just could not keep his illegal accomplishments to himself, and took to popular chat app WhatsApp to brag to others about it.

Details are still scarce on what the investigations have found, and it's unknown what the teen's motives were.  It's also unknown as to how the AFP finally tracked down the teenager.

Seems that hackers wouldn't be hackers without bravado these days, but that's not entirely fair.  The smart ones are the ones you never hear about on the news, but they can know more about you than the federal government.


So what can you do to keep safe?  Here are some basics for both Apple and PC users:

Set Up 2-Step Verification for iCloud

The very first thing Apple users MUST do is set up Two-Step Verification for iCloud.  This secures your iCloud account by requiring 2 devices to confirm your ID.

If you think this is a hassle, think about this:  Remember when all those celebrities' Apple accounts were hacked a couple years ago?  The one where all those famous ladies personal and private photos were leaked online?

This was solely because they did not have 2-step verification set up for their Apple iCloud accounts.  Do I have to say more?


Assume Know that the Bad Guys are Already Inside

I hate to say it, but the best call to action against hackers is when you realize that your computer or device has been compromised.  Most folks worry about what they can do to prevent getting hacked, but unfortunately, and honestly, a disturbingly high percentage of normal people already have malicious software on their devices, PCs in particular.  

Beef Up Your Security, PC Users!

One of our own, Joey Marotta from the show, used to work as Security Analyst for MySpace.com at the height of that company's popularity.  Part of his job was investigating and working with hackers and in addition to the advice above, he suggests fighting fire with fire:

"When I was investigating hackers, I learned more than a few things. One was that most of them are extremely intelligent and adaptable as you can imagine.  After a while though, I wondered how the hackers themselves prevented intrusion from other hackers.  I found out that a lot of them use publicly-available Anti-Virus / Internet Security software - particularly ESET NOD32."

Sorry to say, but the free anti-virus programs are somewhat less than stellar.  They're improving, but they still can't protect you.  Some of them can't even detect/remove malicious files.

It's a gamble to use free anti-virus software. If you want to increase your odds of successful security, use what the hackers use to protect themselves.

EJ Hilbert is currently CEO of Path Network and a former FBI Cybercrimes agent with over 20 years experience in investigating high-level online threats and cyber-criminal prosecution.  He also served as MySpace.com's director of Security Enforcement 

He's a guy who has hands-on insight into the mind of hackers: their goals, motives, initiative, and plans of action, and last month he stopped by the studio discuss the world of the modern hacker.

Check out the interview below:

Read more about the Sydney/Apple hacking at Reuters.  

Photos by Getty Images.

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