After months of complicated investigation, the Police in China has detained 22 people responsible for stealing and selling the private information of Apple customers. When the news broke out first, it was believed that the offenders were Apple employees; however, it is now known that that is not the case. According to the latest update, Apple representatives have informed that the criminals were not directly employed by the company. Although there is still no information identifying the offenders, it is believed that they might be the suppliers or vendors of the famous technology company. In the Western part of the world, data leaks of such volume are incredible and shocking, but a black market for sharing and selling personal data is thriving in China, and so incidents like this one could become the norm if nothing is done by the Chinese legislators.
The authorities inform that criminals stole information that included Apple IDs, names, and phone numbers. Other kinds of data might have been stolen as well, but, at this point, that is not known. Unfortunately, there is also no information revealing who the victims are. It is possible that only the data of Chinese Apple customers was stolen, but no one has confirmed that yet, and it is possible that the data of customers all over the world was compromised. It was revealed that the stolen data was being sold for 10-180 Yuan a piece, which converts to around 1.50-26 US Dollars. According to the latest information, the data was sold for more than 50 million Yuan in total, which is around 7.36 million Dollars. Internal systems and undisclosed “criminal tools” were used for the collection of data.
The underground black market is thriving, and there is always someone willing to pay money to obtain useful data. While account credentials and credit card information might be the most desirable and valuable, hackers can pay for Apple IDs and names in the hopes of hacking accounts. Telephone numbers are most likely to be sold by schemers who use phone scams to extract more personal information or trick people into paying for fake services. Over 360 cases were examined in China last year prosecuting those involved in the recording and selling of personal data, which indicates a rising problem, considering that the number of cases has doubled from just last year. Of course, this also indicates that the Chinese authorities might be taking the matter more seriously than before. Overall, the demand for personal data is high, and so it is only natural that parties capable of offering a supply emerge as well.
While you cannot do much to stop criminals from stealing data directly from the company storing it, there are things you can do to ensure that you do not provide them with more possibilities to record personal information. First and foremost, if you have not set up a two-factor authentication, do it now. By doing this, you will ensure that hackers cannot access your Apple account without a special security code sent directly to your device. If your device does not support the latest version of the software, you might have to settle for a two-step authentication system, which still can provide you with a good defense.
It must be noted that schemers can use other ways to obtain personal information. For example, silent keyloggers can be infiltrated to record keystrokes and capture screenshots, and intrusive cookies can be placed to record all kinds of data. Misleading surveys could also be employed to trick you into disclosing personal information. Remember that cyber criminals are creating and unleashing new infections every day, and many of them can be used for the recording and leaking or selling of private data. While you may be unable to do anything about data being sold by people who are trusted to handle it, you can strengthen your own virtual protection by being more cautious and taking appropriate security measures.