FBI to investigate celebrity iCloud hack as attackers promise more releases

By Graeme Burton
02 Sep 2014 View Comments

While most people would struggle to persuade police to fill out a crime report if they were to be hacked, the US FBI has already launched an investigation into the Apple iCloud hack that led to the release of compromising photos of more than 100 celebrities.

The images were posted on the notorious 4Chan website on Sunday. The most high profile celebrities included Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence.

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The investigation was launched after lawyers acting for Lawrence and a number of the other celebrities contacted the law enforcement agency.

"The FBI is aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high-profile individuals and is addressing the matter," confirmed a statement from the Los Angeles, California FBI.

Lawrence's publicist, Liz Mahoney, described the hack as a "flagrant violation of privacy". She continued: "The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence."

Actress Kirsten Dunst criticised Apple over the security of its iCloud service, tweeting emoticons the represent the phrase "piece of shit".

The suspected hacker behind the attack, meanwhile, promised to post further images from another location "soon", and added that the attack was the work of several people. "Guys, just to let you know I didn't do this by myself," wrote the hacker. "There are several other people who were in on it and I needed to count on to make this happen. This is the result of several months of long and hard work by all involved."

Given the popularity of Apple iPhones among top celebrities, many may well be storing highly personal photos in the cloud, protected with little more than weak passwords that haven't been changed since the day they bought their first iPod and set up their iTunes account.

The release of the celebrity photos comes one week after Apple released its privacy safeguards for developers using Apple's new "HealthKit" platform, which will allow them to release people's health data to third parties "for medical research purposes", with people's consent, but not to "sell an end-user's health information collected through the HealthKit API to advertising platforms, data brokers or information resellers".

However, with increasingly personal data being held in the cloud, any perceptions of insecurity - whether via hackers or the demands of government agencies across the world - may undermine such a burgeoning market. 

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