The leaking of hundreds of private and personal photographs of Hollywood celebrities has had serious repercussions, including consumers losing their trust in the reliability of iCloud. Investigators continue to probe for explanations of the high-profile breach that hacked online storage accounts of multiple big name celebrities.
Privacy experts joined Hollywood publicists in denouncing the leaks, which made their way onto several websites over the weekend with nude images of more than half a dozen A-list actresses and performers, including Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence.
The security breach – regarded as one of the most wide-ranging attacks involving celebrities – has sparked concerns about the security of photographs, video, and documents that millions of Americans store in popular Internet “cloud” accounts. Lawrence’s photographs allegedly were taken from her personal iCloud account, a service operated by Apple Inc. and often used to automatically store photos taken by a user’s cell phone.
“This is a flagrant violation of privacy,” a spokeswoman for Lawrence said in a statement that threatened to seek prosecution not only of the hacker, but also for anyone who redistributed the photographs.
The FBI said Monday that they were looking into the leaks. An Apple spokesman said the company was “actively investigating” apparent breaches of some of its iCloud accounts, but the company did not disclose which accounts had been compromised.
“We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report,” Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris told the technology Web site Recode.
Independent experts said the hackers appear to have purposely targeted celebrity accounts, suggesting that this isn’t likely to affect ordinary user’s files. Still, with official investigations underway, it is unclear what methods were used to obtain the photos and whether the thefts pointed to broader vulnerabilities.
Anonymous posts on the online message board 4chan – where the photos were first leaked – alleged that the images were obtained from iCloud accounts.