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The internet went absolutely bonkers Sunday afternoon with the release of celebrity nude photos

Over the weekend, numerous reports began popping up around the web that Apple’s iCloud service had been compromised, resulting in leak of hundreds of risqué photos of female celebrities (many of which were reportedly in various stages of undress). Celebrities like Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, model Kate Upton, and gymnast McKayla Moroney were among those that reportedly had their iCloud accounts hacked.
 
For its part, Apple rep Natalie Kerris released the following statement to Re/code:
 
We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report.
 
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is also investigating the incident, stating that it is "aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter."

There have been a number of theories flying around of how this hack could have possibly been carried out, with TheNextWeb detailing a vulnerability in the Find My iPhone service. Hackers allegedly used a “brute force” tactic to repeatedly inundate the Find My iPhone service to obtain the correct password for a particular iCloud account. However, hackers would need the email addresses of the celebrities in order to proceed with the malicious script, so that brings up its own set of additional questions.


With an email address and the correct password, the hackers could gain access to iCloud services, including Photo Streams.
 
Apple has since closed this brute force vulnerability, which would allow an unlimited number of attempts to retrieve a password. Users (and potential hackers looking to perform nefarious deeds) will now see the associated Apple ID disabled after five failed password attempts.
 
Model Kate Upton was among the female celebrities targeted 

Another theory is that this wasn’t some huge smash and grab that just occurred over the weekend, or even over the past week or two. There has been an underground celebrity nude photo “trading ring” that has been in existence for a number of years where users perform individual attacks on celebrities to obtain racy images, then trade them with each other to grow their collections.

 
Once the images started being traded outside of the ring, however, “the beast” began to take on a life of its own. Some credibility is attributed to this theory given the responses by actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who stated that the images were deleted from her phone years ago:


Numerous other celebrities that were listed in the photo dump allege that the photos of them are elaborate fakes. The aforementioned Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, however, have acknowledged through their representatives that the images are in fact real.
 
A representative for Upton released a statement to Us Weekly, which read:
 
This is obviously an outrageous violation of our client Kate Upton's privacy. We intend to pursue anyone disseminating or duplicating these illegally obtained images to the fullest extent possible.
 
Jennifer Lawrence’s spokesperson released the following statement with regards to the images:
 
This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.
 
It should be noted that the hacker who infiltrated Scarlett Johansson’s smartphone in order to obtain and post nude images was sentenced to 10 years in prison

Sources: Re/code, The Next Web, CNN, NBC News





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