Greensboro, NC -- Apple is known for its sleek, stylish -- and some might say -- faultless electronics. But its reputation got a rare beating in recent months when hundreds of thousands of its Mac computers fell victim to a virus.
That isn't the only rotten thing some Apple users are experiencing, either. A growing number of people report their iTunes accounts have been hacked, their credit cards charged and unwanted apps downloaded.
Whether you can't work without listening to music or you can't make it through a work day without an Angry Birds break, you can't avoid using iTunes to get the latest apps and songs to fill up your iPod, iPhone or iPad. Even if you don't have a snazzy iDevice, you can still download iTunes to manage your music and movies. And since hundreds of millions of people have done just that, tech experts say it's no wonder hackers are hitting it big.
"Someone asked Willie Sutton, 'Why do you rob banks?'" related Rick Matthews, the associate provost for Technology and Information Systems at Wake Forest University. "And Willie Sutton said, 'Because that's where the money is.'"
There is plenty of money in iTunes, as you have to tie some form of payment to your account. And on page after page of forums in Apple's online community, hundreds of people say hackers are stealing their money.
There are a couple of theories floating around online about how that's happening. One says some folks have figured out how to generate iTunes gift card numbers, which means your account might not actually be getting hacked -- but that someone has drained down the balance on the gift card number that matches yours.
Or hackers could've figured out your password from another website and hit the jackpot because you keep it the same on multiple sites.
"How important are your keys? Do you want to use the same key for everything you do?" Matthews asked. Failing to have a different password for each site you visit "gives access to a lot of information. Your passwords are the keys to your financial wellbeing. ... You need to protect those like you protect your property at home."
Matthews says you should use a different password for every online account you have. That's your best defense against hackers, he said.
When it comes to safeguarding the money in your iTunes account, use a gift card for payment if you can. At the very least, use a credit card instead of a debit card. That'll give you the best chance of getting your money back if something goes wrong.
If you think your iTunes account has been hacked, tech website CNET recommends you change your password immediately. You can de-authorize all the machines associated with your iTunes account, too, and then reset your account. CNET also recommends contacting Apple through the iTunes Store to let the company know your account could've been compromised.
WFMY News 2 reached out to Apple to see what it's doing to stop the reported problems, but the company has not yet responded.
WFMY News 2