There's a seedy trade in compromising photos stored in Apple iCloud accounts, and it is in part aided by a software program that cleanly collects the data.
Some of the nude celebrity photos are believed to have first been circulated on Anon-IB, a definitely not safe-for-work forum. As reported by Wired, the forum is full of offers for iCloud "ripping," or downloading the entire contents of an account.
The software tool they're using is Moscow-based Elcomsoft's Phone Password Breaker, or EPPB, one of many forensic tools the company develops for law enforcement and other clients.
Elcomsoft CEO Vladimir Katalov said via email on Wednesday that there are legitimate uses for his company's software and that it doesn't exploit flaws in Apple services.
Apple has denied it was breached, saying the celebrities were victims of targeted attacks that sought their user names, passwords and security questions.
Elcomsoft doesn't restrict who it sells EPPB to, Katalov said, and over time the software has been sold and then leaked to underground websites.
The problem of pirated software isn't unique to Elcomsoft. Companies such as Microsoft have built technical defenses into their software to try to prevent piracy.
EPPB comes into play after a victim's Apple ID and password have been compromised by other means. The software can pull text messages, attachments, call logs, address books, calendars, email account settings, photos and other information in a few minutes.
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