The widespread leak of private photographs belonging to popular celebrities, of which include Jennifer Lawrence and Rihanna, has heightened concerns about the security of online storage sights. The images were obtained by hackers who gained access to private celebrity accounts, and/or to an account of a hacker collecting such photographs. While the leak has been denounced by many Hollywood officials as shameful and an absolute violation of privacy, it has also brought to question the security of non-celebrity’s online property.
The images were taken from Apple iCloud accounts, a services that allows the user to store photos taken via mobile phone. Apple claims it is currently investigating the breach of its accounts.
We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report,” Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris has stated.
While the exact method by which the hackers were able to access the content is unknown, security experts have suggested a few ways it may have been possible. The first theory suggests the hacker may have obtained a celebrity email address and “tricked the services into resetting the passwords by then guess the correct answers to security questions.” Other methods suggests hackers were able to find security vulnerability in the iCloud, such as the alleged vulnerability of the “Find My Phone” app, which was announced just the day before.
According to experts, as reported by The Washington Post,
…if cloud storage was indeed the source of the photos, an easy security measure might have saved celebrities a lot of embarrassment. Most cloud services, including Apple’s, offer an extra safeguard known as “two-factor authentication,” which requires users to verify their identities in a two-step process using different passwords.”
On June 10, Consumers’ Research published a brief summary of the MEF Consumer Trust Summit, during which experts on three panels discussed the importance of consumer privacy in a growing mobile market. The publicized mass leak of private property suggests consumer privacy continues to be a growing concern as dependency and trust for mobile devices and online storage grows. While celebrities targeted at much high rates than average Americans, the story here is that it could happen to you.
Consumers’ Research advises individuals to educate themselves- read the fine print, read the agreement you are confirming, and take as many security measures as possible. Special attention should be given to online finances, as well as any personal security information stored online that could make one a target. It is crucial to understand the technology you are depending so much on.
Read more here- “Leaks of Nude Celebrity Photos Raise Concerns About Security of the Cloud,” (Andrea Peterson, Emily Yahr, and Joby Warrick, The Washington Post)
Olivia is a graduate of Villanova University where she studied Economics and History, minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She also has experience working with federal legislatures on health care policy, women's issues, and Internet safety.