The publishing of nude pictures of celebrities over the internet is by no means a new phenomenon, more often than not these are fake and easily dismissed. On the rare occasion that the pictures are found be real, there are severe consequences. Take for example the hacker in 2012, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after hacking into the accounts of Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis and posting their photos online. However, this seems not to have been enough of a deterrent for the hacker that last night, who released a number of celebrity’s pictures and is ransoming the rest for Bitcoin payments. Much to the mortification of some celebrities, the pictures that were already been released are spreading like wildfire across the web and Twitter.
The pictures were first published on the website 4Chan by a hacker claiming to have hundreds more. Moreover, the hacker is also claiming to have explicit videos of Lawrence, as well as over 60 nude selfies of the actress. In addition to Lawrence, other names on the list posted to 4Chan of victims include: Aly and AJ Michalka, Avril Lavigne, Amber Heard, Becca Tobin, Brie Larson, Hayden Pannettiere, Hope Solo, Hillary Duff, Jenny McCarthy, Kayley Cuoco, Kate Upton, Kate Bosworth, Keke Palmer, Kim Kardashian, Kirsten Dunst, Krysten Ritter, Laura Ramsey, Lea Michele, Lizzy Caplan, Mary Kate Olsen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rihanna, Scarlet Johansson, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Wynona Ryder, as well as a shot of Alison Brie with Dave Franco. You can see the full list here.
Several photos have already started to show up on various message boards across the internet and celebrities have started challenging their authenticity. Actress Victoria Justice, who was also targeted in the hack, tweeted, “These so called nudes of me are FAKE people, let me nip this in the bud right now. *pun intended*”
Others are understandably quite upset by the breach and have confirmed its authenticity. A spokesperson for Jennifer Lawrence released a statement to the Huffington Post confirming the pictures saying, “This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.”
Posters on 4chan and Reddit are claiming that the celebrities were hacked through Apple’s iCloud platform, but this has yet to be verified. Though Apple does not exactly offer the highest security protocol, with end to end 128-bit AES encryptions, the inclusion of videos to the ransom makes the weaknesses of iCloud as the only culprit highly improbable. This is because unlike pictures that are automatically uploaded to the cloud, videos require extra effort from the user to intentionally put it there.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak shared his concerns about the cloud back at the start of last month stating, “I really worry about everything going to the cloud,” he said. “I think it’s going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years…With the cloud, you don’t own anything. You already signed it away”
Though it is not for certain that iCloud is the culprit, Wozniak’s does have a point that cloud storage providers have faced some pretty embarrassing security breaches over the last few years. One can only hope that breaches like these will be enough of a call to action for them to get their act together and take the necessary precautions.