Suspicion over celebrity photo hacks pointed at Apple’s iCloud

It was a long weekend for more than 100 international celebrities, and not because of Labour Day.

On Sunday someone published nude photos of a number of well-known performers including Jennifer Lawrence, Rhianna, Selina Gomez and Kirsten Dunst, perhaps through accessing Apple’s iCloud service.

Hackers posted the nude photos on the anonymous image-sharing website 4chan, according to a London newspaper, which said  reported by allegedly breaking into iCloud accounts where backups of data from iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices are stored by users.

According to GigaOM, the FBI is investigating the hack.

There was immediate speculation on how iCloud was compromised — if it was — with fingers pointed at an exploit against Apple’s Find My iPhone service revealed three days ago, which could use a “brute-force” attack to work out a password if an attacker had the private email address of a celebrity or their manager.

But the Guardian also notes that some experts, after looking at the metadata on the images, wonder if the pictures had been snared by one hacker over a period of time, then released after that person’s system was cracked by another.

The incident has spawned a rash of articles on whether iCloud is secure, how to make images stored in the cloud secure, and whether it’s true that iCloud was the source of the images at all. I’m not going to ask why celebrities have nude photos of themselves on their mobile devices.

I suspect that as in most cases rather than a password breach some social networking was at play, with someone — or more than one person– clicking on an email link.

Meanwhile, my new iPad is safe — I haven’t taken it out of the box yet.

Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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