News Online: Recent hacks on iTunes accounts raising concerns

Published online at on July 18, 2011.

Linda Hoang, Global News: Monday, July 18, 2011

Recent hacks on iTunes accounts raising concerns

iTunes is where most of the world goes for its music these days.

Hundreds of millions of people download music, movies, and more, at the touch of a button through the program.

But concerns are being raised now after numerous iTunes accounts have been hacked in recent months.

Cyber crooks are silently robbing iTunes users but now more and more users are noticing unauthorized purchases on their iTunes accounts and seeing online credits from their gift cards disappear, including here in the Edmonton area.

Online forums are full of iTunes users venting about unauthorized purchases and downloads.

Brad Schurman is one of many users impacted.

“It said that I purchased this “Tiny Birds” application,” Schurman said. “It charged it to my credit card and I thought ‘whoa, wait a minute now.'”

The hackers usually target users who pay with gift cards, PayPal, or have iTunes credits.

But credit cards on file with iTunes have also been compromised.

Only 99 cents was taken off of Schurman’s card before he reported the problem, but others have had higher amounts taken, and many don’t notice right away, like Schurman did.

Apple has refunded people who have been affected.

A spokesperson for the company declined an interview with Global News but issued the following statement:

“We’re always working to enhance account security for iTunes Store users. If your credit card or iTunes password is stolen and used on iTunes you should contact your financial institution about any unauthorized purchases, and be sure to change your iTunes password right away.”

However, many users say the company is blaming them for the security breach, claiming that they must have shared their passwords or let someone in their family use their account for purchases.

“Their main points were that it was my fault in that I either used a weak password or let somebody purchase the product on my machine,” said Schurman, who had sent several emails back and forth with Apple trying to resolve the issue and come up with a solution.

“They didn’t even admit that there was a problem actually.”

Local hacker and computer security consultant Brad Haines says he’s not surprised the hacks are happening.

“If there’s a way to make money, guys will figure out a way to scam the system,” he said.

“Everybody has an IOS device and now it’s more of a target, iTunes especially, because there’s a credit card tied to it, there’s a way to make money.”

Haines believes the hackers are either using some kind of malware program to get into iTunes’ users’ accounts or are working off of a list of compromised emails and passwords.

“People have a tendency to use the same password, the same one in difference places so they’ll be able to access your iTunes account using your Facebook login for instance,” he said.

Haines reccomends users to always check their bank statements to make sure there are no fraudulent purchases, and reporting it right away if someone has hacked their account.

Click for Apple’s tips on protecting your iTunes account security.

With files from Julie Matthews

Click here to read the article on the Global Edmonton website.

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