Apple users have been locked out of their accounts and asked to change their passwords – amid reports that the company may have been victim to a data breach.

Countless device owners have complained on social media about being asked to change their passwords for seemingly no reason. However, even when these passwords were reset and input again correctly, users remained locked out and told they needed to verify their identity.

As the issue saw Apple IDs locked, all those affected were shut out of iCloud, iMessage, Apple Music, Apple TV and others.

Though Apple has acknowledged that some users are experiencing faults, it has remained resolutely tight-lipped about how many accounts have been impacted. The notoriously secretive company has also neglected to explain what caused the issue – leading to much speculation.

The first thought among many users was a hack, given that it required ID verification but only impacted certain users. Similarly, others think that whilst Apple itself may not have been directly hacked, it may instead have noticed a spike in attempts to access specific accounts using data gleaned from third party breaches.

Others believe there to have been no hack, but instead trouble with the code that triggers a lockout automatically, even when it’s not required. Alternatively, the issue could lie with Apple’s identity verification software, which may be failing to allow users to correctly identify themselves through the usual means.

Another theory is that Apple is taking precautionary measures on users it deems to be at higher risk of attack, be it through them being victims of a previous data breach or by using a weak password – or one they’ve widely used elsewhere.

Until Apple rolls out a full fix for the issue – and reveals what caused the issue, or indeed how many users were impacted – the company can expect plenty more theories to guess at just what has gone wrong.