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iCloud celeb photo hack could be a disaster for Apple: Expert

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The widely reported celebrity nude photo hacking scandal could have an unexpected casualty: Apple.

Unless the company responds quickly to concerns about iCloud security, and shows public concern for people impacted by the hack, the company risks doing permanent damage to its reputation, say two crisis-management experts.

"This is a big skirmish for Apple and will depend on the next couple of days what they do whether it will turn into a real disaster," said Andrew Gilman, president and chief executive of CommCore Consulting.

Apple's next move is critical for the company's standing among consumers, said Gilman in an interview with CNBC.

"Apple needs to do three or four things. First, show care and concern for the celebrities who have had their phones and data hacked. Second, use any and all social media channels to send out information to their fans. And third, actively investigate," Gilman said.

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"This is a big hit today to Apple's reputation, the question is how quickly they can do damage control and whether people use their own social media channels and start throwing away their fabulous iPhones for something else," he said.

The latest security breaches also raises concern on the safety of Apple's iCloud software.

"Until a long time goes by without a [security] breach of this sort no one is going to feel comfortable," said Eric Dezenhall, president and chief executive of Dezenhall Resources.

"This is a matter of hardening technology. Until that happens, people will be rightly insecure about uploading their photographs anywhere" Dezenhall said.

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An email sent to an Apple spokesperson wasn't returned, but Apple issued a statement Tuesday afternoon.

"After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet. None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple's systems including iCloud® or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved," the company said.


—By CNBC's Bree Kelly

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