Apple Inc. (AAPL) shut down its website for software developers after a hacker broke into the network and is overhauling the system to prevent the incident from damaging its relationship with programmers.
Apple took the site, used by engineers who write applications for iPhones, Macs and other products, offline on July 18 after a hacker tried to steal basic information on developers such as e-mail addresses, the company said in a statement posted on the Internet yesterday.
Developers who use the site for software downloads, documentation and engineering information could face delays in introducing their own products. Some of the information is encrypted and Apple hasn’t been able to rule out whether names, mailing addresses or e-mail addresses may have been accessed, the company said.
“Unless it turns out the breach was worse than they’re saying, this won’t have much impact,” said Roger Thompson, chief emerging threat researcher at ICSA Labs, a unit of Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) “If it’s just e-mail addresses, developers will think ‘gosh, we may get some spam.’”
Apple said it would extend memberships for any users if their accounts were due to expire while the website is offline. The Cupertino, California-based maker of iPhones and iPads said to prevent a security threat like this from happening again it’s “completely overhauling” its developer systems.
“Apple has reacted with an abundance of caution, to make sure they get everything straightened out,” Thompson said.
“Having your partners get breached in a hacking attempt is a serious loss of trust for developers,” Frank Yu, Beijing-based chief executive officer of app developer Kwestr, said in an e-mail today. “Apple has responded well to allay those fears.”
The Pentagon cleared Apple devices for use on its networks in May, approving the use of government-issued Apple products running a version of the iOS 6 mobile platform. Some Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) and BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY) products are also approved for military sales. The approval demonstrated Apple’s “commitment to deliver a secure platform to our enterprise and government customers,” the company said at the time.
Sony Corp. was targeted in 2011, when information from more than 100 million customer accounts for the PlayStation Network was stolen. Hackers compromised the network, used for purchases of game content and video on demand, causing it to be shut down for more than two months.
Apple apologized for “significant inconvenience” that the outage caused for software developers and that it was working “around the clock” to restore the website soon.
“This event shows that our private information and our developer account may be leaked,” said Cui Tong, a Beijing-based iOS developer who works for photo-sharing app PaPa. “I hope Apple will spend more time and resources on security to protect our private information.”
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