Hundreds of stolen images appear online, the parties responsible promise there’s more to come
Nude pictures of 17 female celebrities have apparently been leaked online after being stolen by a hacker who claims to have illegally obtained hundreds of other x-rated photos.
The photos allegedly include snaps of Coronation Street sex symbol Michelle Keegan, Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence, Spider-Man star Kirsten Dunst and pop star Ariana Grande. The photos were posted on the grime-‘n-gore image board 4chan.
It’s unclear how the images, also including a variety of semi nude and clothed-but-revealing shots, were obtained. Anonymous 4chan users, however, suggested that they were taken from celebrities’ iCloud accounts, which are designed to allow Mac, iPad and iPhone users to synchronise images, settings, calendar information, and other data between devices.
There has been no response from Apple yet, so it remains unclear if this is part of a larger potential compromise of the iCloud infrastructure, or simply the leakers gaining access to the accounts by guessing passwords or using malware.
There have been numerous images released of the celebrities, and the leakers claim there’s more to come. Given the number of celebrities compromised it could be a combination of multiple services, said Ken Westin, security analyst at Tripwire.
The iCloud service has come under sever criticism, though, being described as unreliable and confusing. Jennifer Lawrence herself complained about the service during an interview with MTV earlier this year.
Star of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, was one of the celebrities whose pictures were posted. She said her leaked images had been taken and deleted years ago, suggesting this content was either still available in cloud storage, or had been compromised a long time ago.
A number of the photos are believed to be fake, although some have been confirmed as genuine. A spokesperson for Ariana Grande said that the photos are “completely fake”, while Victoria Justice tweeted that the pictures were not of her.
Other victims of the hack confirmed the pictures are real, though. Mary Elizabeth Winstead tweeted that she could “only imagine the creepy effort that went into” the breach, and Lawrence’s publicist Bryna Rifkin released a statement describing the leak “a flagrant violation of privacy.”
Rifkin also warned that anyone posting the stolen pictures will be dealt with by relevant authorities.
Westin said: “This is not the first time private celebrity images have been compromised. In 2011 Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera and others had images compromised by Christopher Chaney who compromised multiple celebrity email accounts simply by guessing their passwords. Chaney was caught and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
“It is important for celebrities and the general public to remember that images and data no longer just reside on the device that captured it. Once images and other data are uploaded to the cloud, it becomes much more difficult to control who has access to it, even if we think it is private. Although many cloud providers may encrypt the data communications between the device and the cloud, it does not mean that the image and data is encrypted when the data is at rest. If you can view the image in the cloud service, so can a hacker.”
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