FBI investigates 'Cloud' celebrity picture leaks


Tim Allman reports on the hacking allegations surrounding private photos of several celebrities, including actress Jennifer Lawrence.

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The FBI is looking into allegations that intimate pictures of celebrities have been stolen and posted online.

About 20 personalities, including the US actress Jennifer Lawrence, have had images of themselves leaked over the Internet.

It is understood some of the images were obtained from services such as Apple iCloud that back up content from devices on to the internet.

Apple says it is investigating whether iCloud accounts have been hacked.

Ms Lawrence, who stars in The Hunger Games films, has requested an investigation after a hacker apparently obtained photographs, with graphic content, from the mobile phones of numerous celebrities.

Rihanna (May 2014) The pop star Rihanna is among those targeted by the hackers
Kim Kardashian (August 2014) Kim Kardashian is believed to be another celebrity whose account was hacked

A spokeswoman for the actress said the internet posts were "a flagrant violation of privacy".

An FBI spokesman told the Associated Press news agency that it was "aware of the allegations" and was "addressing the matter".

Apple spokeswoman Nat Kerris was quoted by Reuters as saying in an email: "We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report."

Experts have raised concerns over the security of "cloud" storage sites.

"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," said Ken Westin, security analyst at Tripwire.

"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."

'Creepy effort'

Images of the celebrities were leaked on image posting website 4Chan.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead Mary Elizabeth Winstead said the images of her were old

The user posting them - who defined him or herself as a "collector" rather than "hacker" - said more images of different celebrities would soon be posted.

Copies of the images spread to other services, including Reddit, Imgur and Twitter, from which they were subsequently deleted by administrators.

While some of the celebrities said the images were fake, others have confirmed their authenticity.

Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead posted on Twitter: "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.

"Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this."

Winstead's comments would suggest iCloud was not at play, as pictures on Apple's service are only viewable online for 30 days.

Sarah Schaaf tweet Imgur's director of community Sarah Schaaf tweeted about her efforts to delete copies of the leaked pictures

Raj Samani from Intel Security said: "Almost every service used online requires a password, and to ensure your passwords are secure, they must be complex."

But more often than not, it is human weaknesses that give hackers the simplest route to compromising accounts.

"Phishing" people - meaning to trick them into giving up their password - is considered perhaps the simplest and most targeted way hackers gain access to accounts.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    I think this is absolutely shocking. Anyone offering cloud services in the future will have to up their game and make the servers more hacker proof than currently. I feel that intimate pictures not meant for public consumption should be securely held if stored in digital format, whether this is on a cloud server or on a pc hard drive. Everyone is entitled to privacy even those in the public eye

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    It's ridiculous to see so many people using free services offered by corporations expecting it to always be there, always secure and always free. The moment you upload to any service not under your complete control you are handing it to someone else, and they are well protected against being held accountable for anything that happens to it. Don't use them. Keep everything under your control.

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    All these negative comments on these celebrities is just absolutely absurd. Just because they are celebrities and receives a lot of attention (and yes most may even like it or seeks more of it) it does not mean they should be less angry/upset their PRIVATE pictures are going viral all over the world. I think the term 'WE ARE ALL HUMAN' is an alien phrase to most people nowadays.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    Hopefully this will slow the drive to use "the cloud". With so much local power available in modern computers, terabytes of storage for under £100 and increasing flash memory capacities - the only real benefit of the cloud is "access anywhere". Does that outweigh the security risks? Not in my book.

    Anything worth keeping I have backed up - across multiple hard drives, not a cloud service.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    I actually feel sorry for these girls, if you take these kinds of photos for PERSONAL use thats up to you, its not their fault that some people are horrible humans that love to humiliate people, so what if you back them up to something you are told is secure!!

    if someone breaks into your house is it your fault for not having an alarm and a massive dog?


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