Massive iCloud Exploit Causes Celebrity Nudes to Leak ( and How You Can Avoid the Same )

Published: September 2, 2014 9:00 AM /


J. Lawrence

Yesterday, a plethora of nude celebrity photos were leaked online by an anonymous poster on 4chan. The photos, saved to iCloud through their iPhones, include big name actresses like Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upon, Ariana Grande, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Spokespersons for the affected celebreties have confirmed or denied these photos, while some celebrities acknowledge them in a manner that suggests they are genuine. In lew of this, Apple has remained quiet about the breach of security within their cloud based storage system, leaving many people to wonder are their private photos secure?

While nothing is being ruled out, it seems unlikely hackers were able to crack Apple's 128 bit encryption of iCloud, which up until now has held up without incident. More likely, the photos were leaked when the hackers (or more accurately intruders as hacking probably wasn't involved) had obtained the celebrities emails, and either learned their passwords, or guessed their security questions.

If you are fearing a breach of security, below are  a few steps you can take for keeping your photos safe, should you ever become an A-list celebrity or otherwise.

  1. IcloudDisable Photo Stream (This can be done in the settings app of your iPhone).

    Cut it off at its source! Disabling photo stream is probably the best choice because doing so means the photos never leave the device they were taken on. Turning off photo sharing is also a good option in this instance.
  2. Use a more secure password for iCloud. (You can change your iCloud password in your Apple ID.)

    We've seen time and time again, one of the most common reasons a persons personal information is leaked is exposed is because someone made the dangerous password cocktail of both having a weak password, and using that same password for everything. Remembering different passwords for everything sounds like more trouble than it's worth, so your first line of defense. You can mix a word up with CaPiTaL AnD LoWeRcAsE letters for instance. Or you can use two words that you wouldn't commonly associate. It is recommended that you NOT use personal information as a password, such as birth dates, or your debit card passcode. A good password should be at least 10-15 letters, and spread capital letters and numbers throughout. This probably seems like a pain, which it is. But then, it's a pain for the hacker too.
  3. Use two-step verification for a final defense.

    Two step verification is a process Apple employs that requires verification from one of your devices before someone can access your Apple ID, make purchases through the App Store, or get other Apple ID related support from Apple. Not only can you be better protected in case of intrusion, but you'll be warned and may be able to pull sensitive information or photos from the cloud. Even if the intruder outright knows your password, without consent from one of your devices, the password won't be enough.

The general public is reacting to the leaked nudes of famous individuals as you would expect. The leak is being referred to by several corners of the internet as "The Great Fappening". More than concern, the majority reaction seems to be the hype around seeing Kate Upton's rack. It's understandable that "Jennifer Lawrence Naked" will be a more grabbing headline than another dull article about how a major company is poorly handling your personal information. However dear reader, keep in mind that these A-list celebrities were being protected by (most likely) the same basic protections you have of the pics you still have of your ex, or that snapchat your girlfriend saved on her phone, unknowingly saved in the cloud behind an unsecured password/email combo. A little extra protection can go a long way, and in this day and age, you have enough to worry about with the NSA trying to see what you have saved in Apple's metaphorical cloud, best not add to that a nosey neighbor who knows the answer to "What is your mothers maiden name?", or "What was your favorite subject in school?"

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Avid shooter and platformer fan. Coffee is the only power up I need. In the spare time I have I will listen to more podcasts than has scientifically been… More about Bryan