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The Britney Spears iCloud incident: could it happen to you?

Even if you’re not a fan of pop music, you have probably heard that Britney Spears has been under conservatorship for the past 13 years. It has recently been revealed that her father hired a security firm to spy on her iCloud account. Whether you’re a celebrity or an ordinary person, the chances of having your iCloud stalked are equally high.

Karolis Bareckas

Karolis Bareckas

The Britney Spears iCloud incident: could it happen to you?

A quick overview of Britney’s iCloud story

Jamie Spears, the singer’s father, hired a security firm to spy on Britney’s phone and install special audio devices in her bedroom.

The father had an iPad and iPod logged in with Britney’s iCloud account, giving him access to everything she did on her smartphone. Jamie Spears could monitor his daughter’s photos, videos, browsing history, FaceTime calls, notes, and iMessages without the pop star knowing a thing about it.

It’s not clear how the father got Britney’s Apple ID and iCloud account passwords, but this was obviously not a big problem for him. The story raised a lot of ethical questions and caused heated debate in the media. Is it morally acceptable to spy on your family member? Many Apple users also expressed concerns about their privacy — is it really that easy to get access to somebody’s iCloud account?

Is iCloud safe?

All the data in your iCloud is encrypted with end-to-end encryption, both in transit and at rest. However, if somebody steals your Apple ID and iCloud account credentials, they can log in and intercept everything you keep there.

In 2014, a collection of private photos of various celebrities was published online after someone broke into their iCloud accounts. An investigation revealed that a hacker used a spear phishing technique to steal users’ credentials. He faked emails by Apple and Google, claiming that users’ accounts were compromised and asked for their security details.

While two-factor authentication (2FA) may have prevented a lot of celebrities from having their pictures exposed, in 2014, 2FA was still a new feature, and not so many people used it. However, 2FA is now mandatory for all newly created Apple accounts, mitigating the risk of getting hacked.

How to know if somebody is monitoring your iPhone

The iCloud leak in 2014 was a one-time hacking attack, whereas Jamie Spears monitored his daughter for years. His iPad was probably added as a trusted device on Britney’s iPhone, so he could access her iCloud whenever he wanted.

Whether it’s a jealous spouse or a random snooper, you can never be sure nobody is stalking your private life. It’s enough to steal your iCloud password or adjust your iPhone settings without your consent to get access to your account.

Here’s how to check if your iCloud is monitored and remove unknown devices:

  1. Go to your iPhone’s settings.
  2. Tap on your name to access your Apple ID account.
  3. Tap your name
  4. Scroll down to a list of devices linked to your account.
  5. Tap on the device you don’t recognize.
  6. Select device you don’t recognize
  7. Select Remove from account.
  8. Remove from account

5 tips to enhance your iPhone security

  1. Use a strong password. Your password should include lower-case and upper-case letters combined with special characters and numbers. Never use the same password for your other accounts. If you’re struggling to remember all your passwords, let a password manager like NordPass help you.
  2. Enable two-factor authentication. Make sure to enable two-factor authentication on your Apple ID as it adds an extra layer of security to your account.
  3. Never click on suspicious links and attachments. Always closely inspect every email you get from Apple, Google, or other services. Never rush to click on a link or open an attachment as you can end up with malware on your iPhone.
  4. Update your software on time. Postponing updates may cause you trouble, as hackers can exploit a security hole that developers patched months ago.
  5. Use a VPN. A virtual private network encrypts your traffic and hides your IP address, thus improving your security and privacy. Never connect to public Wi-Fi without enabling a VPN first. Criminals can set a fake hotspot, trick you into connecting, and then monitor everything you do online. With one NordVPN account, you can protect up to six devices: your Mac, iPad, iPhone, and more.

Take your privacy into your own hands.

Stay safe with the world’s leading VPN

Karolis Bareckas
Karolis Bareckas Karolis Bareckas
Karolis is a tech geek who writes about cybersecurity, online privacy, and the latest gadgets. When not rattling his keyboard, he’s always eager to try a new burrito recipe or explore a new camping spot.

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