The invention of cloud-based sharing and storage options for both computers or cellphones make it easy to backup important information and share information across your devices. Default features in most cell phones exist so that whatever new content you add—whether photos, videos or documents—automatically backs up to a “secure” online location, safeguarding people’s important information should they lose or damage their cell phones. In many cases, these backups are done automatically, not necessarily with the owner’s awareness. However, even if media is intentionally stored on a cloud-based system, people rarely fear for the security and privacy of their personal information. Until something awful happens to remind us, that is…
As we can see from hundreds of articles and news stories bombarding the internet about celebrity phone hacks this week, it’s safe to say that personal data stored on your phone is never 100% secure. Granted, it probably took these malicious hackers months of number crunching and geeky problem solving to gain access to these celebrity phones. But the fact that they did gain access is what concerns most people, celebrities or not.
It can be easy to objectify celebrities as almost mythical Hollywood creatures who exist only in the confines of film celluloid and gossip pages. But in reality, they’re people much like the rest of us. Like us, they use their cell phone. And yes, like us, they may use them to do things that are — to put it simply — none of anyone’s business. It’s sad that it even needs to be pointed out that celebrities have the sacred right to privacy as much as any of us, and the right to behave however they want in the privacy of their own homes with consensual partners.
Hacking is a crime, and hacking explicit personal material is a sex crime. The FBI has been made aware of the recent celebrity phone hacks of the phones belonging to celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, Elizabeth Winstead and others. The alleged hacker, who admitted to working with others, posted a list of the celebrity targets online on the questionable but popular forum, 4chan. Once the photos leaked, there was nothing stopping other internet users from storing them, altering them, or distributing them wherever they saw fit across the online landscape – and distribute them they did.
The following list presents 10 shocking cases of celebrity phone hacks in modern history. For the most part, they serve as reminders that our private information is always up for grabs. People are free to do what they want and will, but readers are urged not to seek out the ill-gotten photos; simply put they’re not ours to see, whatever the hackers believe.
10. Kate Upton
Kate Upton, one of the world’s highest earning models, was among the over one hundred celebrities whose phones were hacked and the photos posted online in August 2014. Upton’s lawyer Lawrence Shire has said the photo leaks were “obviously an outrageous violation of our client Kate Upton’s privacy.” However, like many of the other celebrity victims, Upton has remained mostly silent, neither confirming nor denying the legitimacy of the leaked photos.
9. Paris Hilton
Back in 2005, Paris Hilton was one of the biggest celebrity socialites in the world. 2005 was the year that her T-Mobile Sidekick was hacked and her personal photos and celebrity phone numbers were leaked all over the internet. Among some of the phone numbers were Lindsay Lohan, Ashley Olsen, and Eminem. Many were forced to change their numbers – with the exception of Fred Durst who refused.
8. Hugh Grant
It’s not only female celebrities who have their privacy violated. In 2013, actor Hugh Grant had his phone hacked and personal information leaked online. He was among another one hundred celebrities, including Sarah Ferguson, to have a cellphone broken into by hackers. But in Grant’s case, the hack was done by an individual or small team of actual ‘hacks’: The crime was concocted by a tabloid news publisher, News of the World, a News Corp publication, on the hunt for comprising information to publish in the gutter press.
7. Blake Lively
In 2011, the hacker scoffed at claims that leaked photos of actress Blake Lively were faked or photoshopped. To prove they were in fact real, he posted 17 additional photos of Lively. Other people proved they were legitimate by comparing distinct tattoos she has on her chest and shoulder. However, Blake and her “people” continued to claim that the photos were faked. The alleged nude photographs of Blake did not show her face.
6. Mila Kunis
Popular actress Mila Kunis had her personal photos leaked in 2011 when her phone was hacked. About four photos leaked of Mila Kunis: some featured actor and musician Justin Timberlake, and a few poses suggested either playful fun or something more sexual. Also included in the batch was an explicit photo of an unidentified man. Representatives of the celebrities were contacted. Those of Timberlake denied claims that he and Kunis were romantically involved.
R&B star Rihanna is among the A-listers to have her phone recently hacked and photos spread on online forums like 4chan. Needless to say, she responded angrily to the hacks and is pursuing legal action. Not only were the photos of her personal, but they also included nude and sexually explicit shots. Apple’s iCloud is taking the brunt of the blame for the ease with which hackers made the security breach in this case.
4. Scarlett Johansson
Not only is Scarlett Johansson a talented celebrity appearing in films from superhero epics to creepy art-house alien dramas, she’s also the victim of a celebrity cellphone hack, having had her photos leaked online. She spoke to Vogue magazine about the scandal and how it affected her, explaining that she was working to put the crime behind her by tuning it out. The hacker Christopher Chaney was determined to be responsible for the leaked nudes.
3. Audrey Plaza
Aubrey Plaza is best known for her angrily sarcastic character on the sitcom Parks and Recreation. But she is also, now, known as a victim of the August 2014 cell phone hack scandal of more than one hundred other celebrities. Among the deeply personal photos of her leaked online, many were nude. The FBI is investigating the crimes along with the other celebrities.
2. Elizabeth Winstead
The leaked photos of actor Elizabeth Winstead caused the actress to make an outraged public statement. Unlike other celebrities involved in the 2014 cell phone hacking scandal, Winestead broke the silence by responding on Twitter, suggesting that the photos of her are indeed real: “Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this. Feeling for everyone who got hacked.” Very, very creepy indeed, and indicative of the long hours it must have taken these hackers to access her phone. She also said, “To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves.”
1. Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence is the Oscar winning international superstar of Hunger Games franchise fame and work with big-name directors such as David O. Russell. She is also the biggest name victim of the recent cell phone hacking scandal and the main focus of hundreds of news stories about the crime. Apple’s iCloud storage service is largely to blame for the lack of security which facilitated the criminals in this case. Apple released a statement saying they “were outraged and immediately mobilized Apple’s engineers to discover the source,” according to Variety.
What many people may not know about Lawrence’s leaked photos is that they will be used by a contemporary artist for uncensored public viewing as a social commentary on internet culture. Unfortunately, there is nothing Lawrence can legally do to stop the artist because she does not own the copyright to the photos. Technically, she was not the person who took them…
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