An Australian teen has pleaded guilty to hacking Apple — something many people thought impossible. The 16-year-old high school student, who cannot be named because he is a minor, is well known in the hacking community. In total, he was able to download 90GB of secure files, including some “authorized keys [which] grant log-in access to users,” according to Apple.
A lawyer for the young hacker said the boy was motivated by his love for Apple products and his desire to eventually work for the tech giant. The hack worked “flawlessly” until Apple got word of the breach, likely from a user who saw the teen bragging about his accomplishments on WhatsApp. Once Apple reported the incident to the FBI, investigators traced the hack to Australia and alerted the Australian Federal Police, who joined what is now an international investigation.
According to authorities, the boy used Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and other tools to avoid detection, but Apple was able to trace the serial numbers on the laptops used in the hack to positively identify him. When seized, two laptops and a phone matched the IP addresses associated with the hack, and investigators discovered a folder on one of the laptops named “hacky hack hack” which contained stolen information.
Apple is understandably tight-lipped about the situation, but cyberattacks like this are becoming an increasingly ubiquitous problem for technology companies, retailers and consumers alike. It is estimated that cybercrime will cost businesses and consumers upwards of $6 trillion annually by 2021, a 100 percent increase since 2015. This represents a global shift in criminal wealth distribution, with profits from cybercrime eclipsing those of all other illegally traded drugs combined.
According to antivirus developer PandaLabs, more than 230,000 malware samples are produced every day. “We predict that the amount of malware created by cybercriminals will continue to grow,” says Luis Corrons, Technical Director of PandaLabs. “We also can’t forget that the creation of millions of Trojans and other threats corresponds to the cybercriminals’ needs to infect as many users as possible in order to get more money.”
As cybercrime continues to rise, so does the need for cybersecurity professionals. Usually the first line of defense, these experts work to prevent hacks before they start, protecting the valuable information of businesses and consumers.