Apple, FBI Investigate Celebrity Hacking

Monday, 01 Sep 2014 05:21 PM

By Newsmax Wires

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The FBI says it is addressing allegations that nude photos of several female celebrities have been stolen and posted online.

A statement released by the agency Monday afternoon doesn't elaborate on what steps are being taken to determine how intimate images of Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence and other stars were leaked.

The photos of Lawrence and others began appearing online Sunday. The 24-year-old's publicist called the release of the images a violation of the actress's privacy.

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Apple said Monday it is investigating whether any of its customers' iCloud accounts had been tampered with.

The FBI has investigated previous leaks of nude celebrity images, including leaks involving Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera and footage shot of television sports reporter Erin Andrews in a Tennessee hotel room.

Apple Inc., which is poised to unveil new iPhones next week, launched its own investigation.

Hackers posted the nude photos on the anonymous image- sharing website 4chan, the Telegraph in London reported. The photos targeting more than 100 U.S. and U.K. celebrities were allegedly obtained by breaking into iCloud accounts, the newspaper said. A representative for Oscar winner Lawrence confirmed the photos were hers and called the situation a “flagrant violation of privacy,” the Telegraph reported.

“We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report,” Nat Kerris, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, said without providing additional details.

The iCloud service lets users store contacts, e-mails, photos and other personal information on external systems they can access virtually. Apple has fixed a bug in its “Find My iPhone” software that may have allowed hackers to gain access to the celebrity iCloud accounts, the Engadget technology website reported, citing developers.

The risk to iCloud users will depend on whether the breach happened within Apple’s security or within the celebrities’ personal accounts, said Clifford Neuman, director of the University of Southern California’s Center for Computer Systems Security. Either way, some users may not understand when and how they are using such services, especially during the set-up.

Hacked Accounts

“The data are leaving the devices that are in your possession and are now being stored on a server elsewhere,” Neuman said today in a telephone interview. “For most things, that’s probably a good thing but for things that are sensitive, that’s a problem.”

The celebrity hack comes days before Apple’s scheduled Sept. 9 product announcement near its headquarters. Apple will introduce bigger-display iPhones and a wearable device at the event, people with knowledge of the plans have said. Anticipation for the event boosted Apple’s shares to a record close on Aug. 29 of $102.50, a 28 percent gain this year.

The celebrities hacked included reality TV star Kim Kardashian and singer Rihanna, the Telegraph reported. Actresses Selena Gomez and Kirsten Dunst also were among the cache, Time Inc. reported on its website. The hackers promised to post more photos, Time reported.

“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,” actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead posted on Twitter. “Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this.”

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Some of the hacked celebrities, including former Nickelodeon star Victoria Justice, said the photographs purported to be of them weren’t real. “These so called nudes of me are FAKE people,” Justice posted on Twitter.


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