There’s been wide spread coverage over the past few days of the photos that have been hacked and posted online of actresses and other famous women.  These individuals used the cloud to store what they thought would remain private photos.  What they learned was that their presumption was sadly wrong.

They are not alone either in storing photos in the cloud or thinking that the photos would be safe there.  Many people area using the cloud for storing all sorts of personal information, much, if not all, of which they’d like to think will be kept private and protected.

As Arik Hesseldahl reports in his recent article, Apple is investigating how the iCloud accounts of these celebrities were hacked (recode.net; “Apple Says It Is “Actively Investigating” Celeb Photo Hack”; September 1).  The tip he includes comes from Darien Kindlund, Director of Threat Research at FireEye, and is one that everyone should try and use.

What’s this tip? Turn 0n and use the two-factor authentication option on iCloud accounts.  Mr. Kindlund is quoted in Mr. Hesseldahl’s articles as noting that Apple calls its version of this enhanced security “two-step verification” and that it’s not easy to learn about — Mr. Kindlund said it takes sorting through a number of support articles to learn about this Apple iCloud feature.

Two-factor authentication is usually a combination of a randomly generated numerical code coupled with the consumer’s regular password.  The numerical code, per Mr. Kindlund, is sent to the consumer’s phone or another device.  Since that code changes all the time, it makes it harder (although not impossible of course) for hackers to get into accounts even if they’ve got the consumer’s password.  The not so good news, per Mr. Kindlund, is that Apple permits someone an unlimited number of password guesses.

While nothing is foolproof, consumers who regularly store photos and other information in the cloud should enable two-factor authentication, or the Apple two-step verification, for additional protection.