An Australian teenager has admitted hacking into Apple’s internal network and stealing 90 GB worth of files.
The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has pleaded guilty to breaking into Apple’s systems on multiple occasions over the course of a year, from his parent’s home in Melbourne’s suburbs.
According to a report in The Age, the young hacker claimed to be a “fan” of the company, who “dreamed” of working for Apple one day.
The teen is thought to have attempted to hide his identity using a variety of tools, such as VPN software. But after Apple eventually spotted the unauthorised access of their internal systems they informed the FBI, who in turn worked with the Australian Federal Police to track down the intruder.
A search of the teenager’s home last year saw law enforcement officers seize two Apple laptops with serial numbers that “matched the serial numbers of devices which accessed the internal systems”, according to a prosecutor.
In addition, a mobile phone and hard drive was also seized.
According to the report, the boy is thought to have successfully accessed authorised login keys, and stored files in a folder labelled “hacky hack hack”.
In what is perhaps an indication of his immaturity, the teenage hacker is alleged to have bragged about his actions to others via WhatsApp.
An official statement from Apple, provided to the BBC, attempts to reassure Apple customers that their personal data was not at risk:
“We vigilantly protect our networks and have dedicated teams of information security professionals that work to detect and respond to threats.
“In this case, our teams discovered the unauthorised access, contained it, and reported the incident to law enforcement.
“We regard the data security of our users as one of our greatest responsibilities and want to assure our customers that at no point during this incident was their personal data compromised.”
Apple is understandably very sensitive to headlines that its systems may have been hacked, and there will no doubt be even greater embarrassment that it may have been successfully compromised for over a year by a boy aged just sixteen.
The boy is due to be sentenced on 20 September, and might serve as a warning to others: if you want to work for a company, it’s generally not a good idea to hack into it first.