Senators ask Apple, Home Depot for information on breaches

Two lawmakers ask the companies to explain the cause of recent data breaches

A recent data breach at retailer Home Depot and a leak of celebrity nude pictures from Apple's iCloud service raise questions about the companies' data security practices, two U.S. senators said Thursday.

Senators John "Jay" Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, and Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, asked Apple and Home Depot for information on their security practices. The senators, senior members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, have asked the companies to provide the committee with detailed information about the causes of the breaches.

A series of new Apple products, including the Apple Watch and its iCloud Drive, will lead to more sensitive customer information stored in the cloud, the senators wrote in a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

"We are interested to know what security protocols Apple has adopted to maximize the safety and privacy of your customers who store information on your company's popular iCloud," the senators wrote. "We understand that the focused nature of the attack on specific iCloud accounts is very different from the massive data breaches that affected other companies, but nonetheless indicate potential vulnerabilities in your cloud security protocols that were exploited by hackers."

Rockefeller and McCaskill sent a similar letter to Home Depot Chairman and CEO Francis Blake. "It has been a week since Home Depot announced its investigation ... and we expect that your security experts have had the time to examine the cause and impact of the attack and breach and will be able to provide the committee with detailed information," the two wrote.

Earlier this week, two other senators called on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to investigate the Home Depot breach, which was disclosed through media reports, not a company announcement.

Home Depot will "continue to cooperate with lawmakers" and other groups looking into the breach, a spokeswoman said.

Apple didn't respond to a request for comments on the letter from Rockefeller and McCaskill.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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Tags tim cookU.S. SenateFrancis Blakeregulationdata breachHome DepotlegislationgovernmentJohn "Jay" RockefellerAppleClaire McCaskillsecurity

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Grant Gross

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