Reported iCloud Hack Results in Massive Leak of Nude Celebrity Photos
Apple is known for its security and privacy measures but this time, the iPhone maker’s services have been exploited at massive scale. Dozens of female celebrities fell victim to hackers who leaked their private collections that include nude and revealing photos as well. The leaked photos were posted on web forum 4chan.
Celebrities whose pictures were leaked include Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, and Ariana Grande.
The leak was predicted a week before it actually happened when an anonymous user suggested that they were able to access cache of celebrities’ personal photos. Before the photos were leaked, the user who claimed responsibility said that more pictures and videos were available. The hacker asked for donations via Paypal or in the form of Bitcoin if anybody needed access to those leaked photos.
Gossip site TMZ was reportedly interested in buying leaked photos and videos but the 4chan hacker refused them and posted the photos on the forum saying “I’d rather you get them than TMZ.”
Not all of the images’ authenticity has been confirmed; the spokesperson for Ariana Grande termed those photos as ‘completely fake.’ Similarly, Victoria Justice, whose photos were also leaked, tweeted about the fact that the photos were forged.
These so called nudes of me are FAKE people. Let me nip this in the bud right now. *pun intended*
— Victoria Justice (@VictoriaJustice) August 31, 2014
However, some celebrities have admitted that the photos were authentic. A spokesperson for Jennifer Lawrence called this act as “a flagrant violation of privacy,” and told BuzzFeed in an email: “The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.”
It is still unclear how the hackers got them. The anonymous 4chan user, who asked for donations, said that the pictures were hacked from celebrities’ iCloud accounts. iCloud is a service that syncs different accounts of iPhone, iPad, and Mac users allowing them access their images, settings, calendar, and other data between different iOS devices.
The alarming fact is that some of the photos were years old. Star of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Mary Elizabeth Winstead said that the photos were taken and deleted years ago. It is also unclear how long the hackers have been accessing those photos through Apple’s iCloud service.
To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves.
— Mary E. Winstead (@M_E_Winstead) August 31, 2014
Another way to get this illegal access could be the ‘Find My iPhone’ exploit, discovered in a Github project called “ibrute.” Engadget reported that Find My iPhone didn’t employ bruteforce protection so it could be exploited to find out passwords. But the issue was resolved in later patches released by Apple. When the author of ibrute was asked if the exploit could be used in accessing celebrities’ photos, he responded: “I’ve not seen any evidence yet, but I admit that someone could use this tool.”
Mashable reports that a number of Twitter accounts posting uncensored celebrity photos have already been banned.