A 22-year-old man was sentenced today in London for his involvement in an extortion attempt against Apple, during which the suspect and co-conspirators threatened to mass-hack iCloud accounts and factory reset 250 million iPhones and iPads.
The man, Kerem Albayrak, was sentenced today to a two-year suspended jail term, 300 hours of unpaid work, and a six-month electronic curfew.
Served as spokesperson
According to the UK National Crime Agency (NCA), Albaryak served as a public face for a hacker group known as the Turkish Crime Family.
He was the one who contacted Apple to forward threats and ransom demands, but also the one who reached out to reporters to promote the would-be hack.
Per the NCA, the first contact was made on March 12, 2017, when Albaryak emailed Apple’s security team to claim he had access to iCloud accounts that he planned to sell online. He requested that Apple pay $75,000 in crypto-currency, or a thousand $100 iTunes gift cards, in return for deleting the database.
A week later, he posted a now-deleted YouTube video showing himself accessing random iCloud accounts.
Albaryak changed his threats on March 21, when he requested Apple pay $100,000 or he’d access 250 million iCloud accounts, reset iCloud passwords, and factory reset users’ devices.
Apple, from the beginning, contacted authorities. As Apple refused to give in to the extortion demand, the number of supposedly compromised accounts also increased, as well as the hacker’s predisposition to talk to reporters and hype up the threat.
However, Albaryak failed to secure his online presence. UK police arrested the hacker on March 28, 2017. The NCA said they found no evidence he ever had access to Apple’s iCloud infrastructure.
At the time, in 2017, Apple said Albaryak only had access to iCloud accounts for which users reused passwords, and those passwords leaked online through breaches at other services.
Albaryak pleaded guilty this month, and was sentenced today.
The NCA did not announce other arrests of members of the Turkish Crime Family hacking group.