In the digital age it’s difficult to keep any information private. Prying eyes are often just one security question away from viewing personal information and gaining access to your accounts, and you whole digital life. Everyone has images that may have been deleted long ago which could be devastating if they were to become displayed in the public domain.
For some stars, in August 2014 this was exactly the nightmare they had to live through as they became victims of a huge hacking scandal.
Private pictures, mostly female celebrities, were posted on user-generated content website: imageboard4chan. They were then shared worldwide and Apple iCloud admitted that the images were obtained through a ‘very targeted attack.’ The event was labelled as The Fappening and although several agents were threatening to sue anyone who published the images – they had already gone viral.
It wasn’t just personal images that stars had to contend with in the public eye but also private conversations were dragged through the dirt; there was alleged over 4,000 victims involved in the scandal. In 2011 a public inquiry was launched investigating The News of the World and other British newspapers published by News International; they were believed to have engaged in phone hacking and police bribery. Several high-profile reporters resigned and the News of the World was forced to close after 168 years of publication.
Musicians are not safe either as the history of online album leaks stretches as far back as 2003 when Kanye West had The College Dropout leaked; at the time West was still quite level-headed and he used the leak as a tool for self-promotional and it boosted his status worldwide. Unfortunately there are other stars who weren’t so cool about their private life being displayed online and the following events left these well-known celebrities devastated…
Even for a huge star like Madonna; releasing an album has to be carefully planned and promoted to maximise the sales potential – the worst thing that could happen is an album leak. Madonna’s nightmare became real when in December 2014, three months before the intended release, 13 songs were leaked from her new album Rebel Hearts. The Queen of Pop did not help matters by labelling the hack “artistic rape” and “terrorism”. The poorly timed comments came just after the Peshawar School attack and Sydney hostage crisis.
She said of the incident: “I wanted to plan everything in advance. Release the single, shoot a video, start talking about my record. And you know, prepare for the release of the entire album and have everything set up just so… But we sort of were left with no choice.”
The Israel Police arrested a man named Adi Lederman who was charged by Israel’s Magistrate court on four counts: Computer trespassing, prohibited secret monitoring and additional computer trespassing, copyright Infringement and obstructing investigation. If found guilty he will face up to five years in jail.
Despite the album receiving very impressive critical reviews; Rebel Hearts was still a flop and her least successful release to date. Rebel Heart sold just 150,000 copies in its first week compared to her previous album MDNA which sold over 350,000 copies. The hack was completely to blame, as fans had access to the material three months before the release – meaning the overall cost of the damage from the leak was staggering.
11. Sienna Miller
Sienna Miller hasn’t had the easiest love life; she began dating Jude Law in 2003 until he had an affair with the nanny of his children. During difficult patches in their relationship she grew closely attached to James Bond star Daniel Craig. At court proceedings in 2011, Miller was made aware that her voicemail had been hacked by the News of the World group.
Private voicemails exchanged between her and Daniel Craig were used to spin stories about the pair. It was alleged the message could be heard as: “Hi, it’s me. I can’t speak, I’m at the Groucho with Jude. I love you.” This was enough inspiration for the News of the World to spin a story about the pair. In her defence, and after hearing several other messages, Miller proved that she would always end voicemails to close family and friends with, “I love you”. There was no affair between the two stars.
During proceedings the court also heard that Jude Law was questioned on his dealings with the News of the World and asked if he directly influenced the stories. When hearing evidence, Dan Evans (ex-reporter for the newspaper) openly admitted conspiracy to hack phones.
Evans also revealed Law’s agent had spoken to the newspaper to make it appear that Ms Miller was “cheating” so that his fling with the Nanny would not be as damaging a blow to his own career. Miller has since began a relationship with actor Tom Sturridge and now lives a relatively happy, drama-free life.
10. Angelina Jolie
Ouch, this was one moment where we felt quite sorry for Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie; nobody would want to hear the awful things that are said behind their back. Late 2014 Sony Pictures were hacked by a group Guardians of Peace, who demanded that Sony’s upcoming North Korea-baiting comedy The Interview (2014) go unreleased. Many private emails were spilled into the public domain; including an exchange between producer Scott Rudin and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal during production of upcoming biopic about Steve Jobs.
In the beginning stages of filming Sony Pictures had already seen David Fincher pull out as director and Christian Bale leave as the star; he was then replaced by Michael Fassbender. Sony Pictures made the decision to leave the project entirely and Universal Pictures took over production. It was then revealed that Jolie had influenced Fincher to leave the production as she wanted him to direct her in Cleopatra.
Rudin expressed his views on this by emailing: “There is no movie of Cleopatra to be made (and how that is a bad thing given the insanity and rampaging ego of this woman and the cost of the movie is beyond me” referring directly to Jolie. In a separate email he also added that Jolie was “a minimally talented spoiled brat who thought nothing of shoving this off her plate for eighteen months so she could go direct a movie [Unbroken]… She’s a camp event and a celebrity and that’s all and the last thing anybody needs is to make a giant bomb with her that any fool could see coming.” We’re guessing next time the producer and actress meet at an event there may be an expected apology.
9. The Beckhams
David and Victoria Beckham were just two of the potential 4,000 victims in the phone hacking scandal. A source close to the family told the Telegraph newspaper: “There were a lot of David Beckham stories in the News of the World and it’s hard to decipher what may have come from genuine sources or from phone hacking.”
In 2005 News of the World won an award for Scoop of the Year at the British Press Awards after they sensationally revealed that David Beckham was having an affair with his personal assistant Rebecca Loos during the time he played for Real Madrid. Beckham persistently denied the allegations however during the phone hacking investigation, although it was difficult to prove, it was believed his personal cell phone being hacked. According to Loos they were enjoying ‘text sex’ together on several occasions.
She gave a tell-all interview to Sky News about her alleged affair with Beckham where she announced that there may have been obvious cracks in the Beckham relationship before she had even arrived: “I think the problems were in their marriage long before I came into the picture. I in no way intended to break up their marriage especially when there are young children involved. I hope they stay together.” Well, after 16 years of marriage they are doing very well.
Icelandic singer, Björk, suffered the worst frustration when she had to rush the release of her ninth studio album, Vulnicura, earlier this year after it was leaked online two months before its scheduled release. The album was an emotional release where the star expressed her feelings about her most recent break-up.
All the schedule PR events had to be re-scrambled after the online leak; there also was no confirmed cover art for the album so this too had to be rushed as soon as possible by her team. The album then became a digital only download which angered many stores who couldn’t compete with exclusivity going to iTunes. All the leak damaged the potential album sales; the perpetrator still remains anonymous.
7. Hugh Grant
Actor Hugh Grant was another victim of the phone-hacking scandal instigated by the News of the World and he accepted a “substantial sum” as compensation. The Love Actually (2003) star donated the money to the Hacked Off campaign which helps to promote responsible press.
Grant said during the enquiry over phone-hacking scandals: “There has been a section of our press that has become allowed to become toxic over the last 20 or 30 years and its main tactic is by bullying and intimidation and blackmail.” He was targeted several times between 2004 until the closure of the newspaper in 2011. Personal voicemails were intercepted because of a tabloid interest in his relationships with several high-profile women”.
During the time he was unaware he was being hacked; Grant couldn’t understand how details of his private life leaked to the press. During the court proceedings the actor said he was “particularly distressed to learn that he had wrongly mistrusted and avoided friends and acquaintances in the past” due to the scandal.
6. Britney Spears
It would be no surprise to anyone if Britney Spears‘ Twitter password was just ‘Password’ as she has been hacked more times than most. In 2009 her account was hacked and many tweets appeared with the 33-year-old star appearing to praise Satan. Spears’ background image and profile picture was also changed to represent the illuminati.
She was also attacked a second time in 2009 but this time in a more sinister hack; her own death was announced. A tweet which was quickly removed read: “Britney has passed today. It is a sad day for everyone.” As her fans went into meltdown the Baby One More Time singer was most likely trying to think of a much stronger password.
The worst of all Britney’s problems came in 2014 when a track titled Alien was leaked without auto-tune and shocked the world that in fact Britney can’t actually sing. William Orbit was a producer who worked with Ms Spears at the time and he attempted to defend the star by stating the vocal wasn’t her actually singing but in-fact just warming-up. He wrote on his personal Facebook page:
“I’d like to affirm that any singer when first at the mic at the start of a long session can make a multitude of vocalisations in order to get warmed up. Warming up is essential if you’re a pro, as it is with a runner doing stretches, and it takes a while to do properly. I’ve heard all manner of sounds emitted during warmups. The point is that it is not supposed to be shared with millions of listeners.”
So leave Britney alone.
5. Paris Hilton
In 2005; a 17-year-old Massachusetts teenager was sentenced to 11 months detention at a juvenile facility after hacking Paris Hilton‘s mobile phone. The hacker posted revealing photos, personal notes and celebrity contact numbers online. The young boy was also responsible for several electronic break-ins at LexisNexis and he was recognised as one of the youngest internet criminals at the time.
After his release from the detention facility he had to complete two years supervised release and was barred from using any computer, cell phone or electronic device that was capable of accessing the Internet.
The most embarrassing of all for the hotel heiress was when her private notes from her cell phone were published online including intimate reminders such as: “Call maroon 5 get birth control”. Although there is no delight in anyone’s private details becoming leaked online, the world was amused when they gained a sneak peak into what the life of the socialite was really like.
4. Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus suffered an unimaginable invasion of privacy when a super-fan broke into her personal iCloud account and peaked into the singers personal life more than the Wrecking Ball singer would ever have wanted. The fan even went as far as posting screen shots of emails from inside the account to prove the hack was legit.
The hacker reported back to fans that they had read enough to now turn her back on the singer completely and said of the star on the still activate (but under new ownership) Twitter account @gypsyhearttour: “I realized she is like a land mine. Step on her the slightest bit and she will explode and tell you to f**k off.”
The anonymous hacker also launched an attack on Tish Cyrus, Miley’s mother and momager, and threatened: “If I wanted to do something to Tish and her family I could just sell whatever I have. But I wanted to do the right thing and tell Miley to make her mother change her password. I also wish I could tell her to fire her mother because she’s an irresponsible, negligent, crazy bomb shell but that’s besides the point.” Nothing worse than the fan that takes it to a whole new stalker level.
3. Iggy Azalea
If there is one group you wouldn’t want to annoy online it would be the ‘hacktivists’ – Anonymous Group and the person who found this out the hard way was none other than Iggy Azalea. Anonymous had accused Azalea of being “guilty of misappropriating black culture, insulting peaceful protesters, and making light of Eric Garner’s death.” She was then given a 48 hour deadline to apologize for her crimes or they threatened to release snapshots from an alleged sex tape featuring the rapper.
The group made it very clear in the series of threatening tweets that they wouldn’t release the tape as they have “values to live by” but instead use stills of Azalea to prove that the tape was in their possession. Anonymous then had their account swiftly removed by Twitter under their harassment act and Azalea dodged a very close call with a huge sex scandal.
2. Scarlett Johansson
In 2011; Scarlett Johansson had her emails hacked and nude photographs were leaked online. Johansson was married to Ryan Reynolds between 2008-2011 and the intimate pictures were meant for his eyes only as the couple were often apart working on film shoots.
The man responsible for the hack was Christopher Chaney from Jacksonville, Florida. He gained access by answering security questions correctly using information he had gathered from the internet. He stole private images, legal contracts, upcoming scripts and worked his way through the contacts list to gain access to more private images of other stars. Chaney was sentenced to 10 years in jail.
30-year-old Johansson went full-frontal again but this time it was her own choice; she played an alien in Under The Skin (2014) and was not shy in coming forward for the nude scenes. Her and Reynolds divorced and have now re-married; Reynolds married actress Blake Lively in 2012 and Johansson married French journalist Romain Dauriac in 2014.
1. Jennifer Lawrence
In August 2014; Jennifer Lawrence was about to go through one of the toughest moments of her entire career when nude photographs were leaked online. An unknown hacker gained entry into her iCloud account and published personal pictures she had taken of herself and shared with lovers. Lawrence did the right thing and held her head up high and she had never intended for any of the pictures to be in the public domain; they were shared only with those she trusted privately.
A couple of months after the leak she gave an interview with Vanity Fair magazine where she spoke openly about the leak. She labelled the crime a “sexual violation” and made clear: “Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offense. You should cower with shame.”
Lawrence had previously earned an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook (2012). She also scooped a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for American Hustle (2013). She has placed the hacking incident in her past; the 24-year-old looks forward to an even better and brighter career as one of the finest actresses of our generation.
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