You may or may not be aware of the incident known as the “Fappening”, that occurred a couple of years ago. The “Fappening” (also known as “Celebgate”) was the release of dozens of explicit photos and videos of several celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, Selena Gomez, and Kate Upton.
These files were originally stored in the celebrities’ private accounts, making it an illegal violation of privacy for anybody else to achieve access to them.
Yet someone still did it; 36 year old Ryan Collins has admitted to hacking into 50 iCloud and 72 Gmail celebrity accounts between November 2012 and September 2014.
Access to these files was the result of an illegal hacking move called “phishing”, whereby Collins sent out several fake emails, posing as Apple or Google, to the celebrities’ email accounts. He used fraudulent email addresses that were designed to look like legitimate accounts, and proceeded to ask for his victims’ usernames and passwords. For those whose details he received he was able to hack into their Apple iCloud account back-ups, giving him access to all of their private files.
Collins has pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Collins is likely to face 18 months in prison for his crime, although “that recommendation will not be binding on the sentencing judge”.
However, Collins has not yet been linked to the actual leaks of the photos and videos, just the hacking of the accounts. The files were posted in waves across popular image-board websites, such as 4Chan and Reddit, but Collins has not yet been blamed for this. So far there is no evidence to suggest that he is responsible for uploading the photos and videos across the internet.
As a result of the leaks, many celebrities have had to deal with feelings of embarrassment and insecurity. According to David Bowdich, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, many of the celebrities have to “contend with lasting emotional distress” because of the “Fappening”.
The investigation is still ongoing, which means that it is likely that more people will be arrested in conjunction with the leaks.
Violations of privacy like this really highlight the importance of personal internet security. Companies like Apple and Google will never ask for your personal details, and we encourage you to always be wary of any email asking for private information.
For more information on how to recognise fraudulent emails, click here.