Celebrity Photo Leak: How Hackers Gained Access to iCloud Accounts

Google's Two Step Verification Method

Following Sunday’s nude photo leak of various A-List Celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande, and Kate Upton by faceless hackers, online security has been front of mind for everyone again. The leaked photos, apparently obtained via a massive hack of several celebrities’ Apple iCloud accounts, were posted on 4chan.org thread by users offering more explicit material in exchange for bitcoin payments. The hackers claim they have in their possession an unknown number of explicit videos of Jennifer Lawrence and 60 nude selfies of the Oscar-winning actress.

Jennifer Lawrence at a red carpet event
Jennifer Lawrence at a red carpet event

An email address is what it took to breach the security of the world-famous Apple iCloud system. Other theories floating around of how the iCloud hackers gained access to various celebrities’ accounts include the “brute force” hack invented by some Russian security researchers. Others think the venue Wi-Fi at the recent Emmy Awards might have been compromised. The faceless hackers, who can only be traced to a single profile name “OriginalGuy” did a single one-time hack to collect the photos and videos from the celebrities. It is believed the hacker(s) using specialist password-cracking tools and guessing targets’ security questions through Apple’s iForgot password reset form, the hacker(s) was able to gain access to celebrity iCloud accounts using only users’ email addresses.


Google's Two Step Verification Method
How the Two-Step Verification Method Works

Following this security breach and massive invasion of privacy so many questions are now being raised. Could the two-factor authentication (TFA) aka two-step verification be held as the holy grail of online safety? Unlike passwords alone, TFAs add 2 or 3 more layers of security than what is provided by passwords alone. TFAs include other security features such as a cell phone SMS code or a fingerprint scan. Another question, which is more disturbing: why so much obsession with nude photos of women? Stealing and exposing women’s private photos to strangers and public is downright wrong. According to Mashable’s Rebecca Ruiz Sunday’s nude female celebrities photo leak by hackers is a flagrant violation of privacy and portrays women’s bodies as cheap and undeserving of privacy or integrity. The US authorities have been contacted to prosecute anyone posting the stolen Jennifer Lawrence photos.

Sources: BusinessInsider, Mashable


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Oscar is a technology journalist writing for Techweez. Covers disruptions and innovations in mobile and how that changes the face of the Africa continent. Stay in touch via Twitter on @Oscar_Adika