Mat Honan, formerly a reporter with Gizmodo who now works for Wired, blogged at the weekend that a hacker wiped his iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air devices and compromised his Gmail and Twitter accounts. The hacker also gained access to Gizmodo's twitter account, as Honan's twitter account was still linked to it.
Honan said that the hacker managed to accomplish all of this by gaining access to his iCloud account, resetting the password and then sending the reset confirmation email to the trash. They then proceeded to wipe all of his devices,
Honan speculated on his blog, Emptyage that the hacker "used brute force to get the password and then reset it to do the damage to my devices". However, Honan later stated that the hacker had contacted him, revealing that he had gained access to his iCloud account using social engineering.
Honan wrote: "I know how it was done now. Confirmed with both the hacker and Apple. It wasn't password related. They got in via Apple tech support and some clever social engineering that let them bypass security questions. Apple has my Macbook and is trying to recover the data. I'm back in all my accounts that I know I was locked out of. Still trying to figure out where else they were."
Social engineering is a technique used (although not exclusively) by hackers to manipulate people into performing actions or divulging confidential information.