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Celebrity nude photo hack brings to question safety of cloud storage

by AirTalk®

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Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" world premiere at Jacob Javits Center on May 10, 2014 in New York City. Mike Coppola/Getty Images

The leak of celebrity nude photos stolen from iCloud storage has sparked concern about privacy issues and cybersecurity. The large cache of photos include pictures of actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Kirsten Dunst, model Kate Upton, and others. 

While some of the women claim that the photos are fake, several have confirmed their legitimacy: Jennifer Lawrence called the hack and release a “flagrant violation” of her privacy.

The incident has prompted an investigation by Apple into its own security and by the FBI into the identity (or identities) of the hackers, who may have been motivated by bitcoin payments. Meanwhile, across the internet, commenters are weighing in on privacy concerns, debating the ethics of viewing the photos, and attempting to find a responsible party.

To keep your information safe, Jeff Schilling, chief security officer at FireHost, recommends having a full understanding of what you're sharing on the cloud.

"As they set up these applications on their phones, they're just kind of clicking through the settings that ask, 'Do you want to use the cloud for this?'" he said. "I think that people need to become more personally educated on what exactly they are enabling on their phone when they take pictures."

Here are some tips to help keep your information safe:

  • Have a complex password: Schilling says having a strong password is key. Hackers will attempt to break into an account using a list of the 500 most popular passwords, so making your password complex can be a great first step. You can also opt for two-step verification of your identity. A hacker who has your password will also need to a have a code that is sent to your phone or email inbox, so as long as the hacker does not have your phone, your account will stay secure.
  • Opt out of cloud usage: Simply check your settings if you are unsure if you agreed to store information with iCloud. iPhones will have the photo stream option set to on if their photos are being stored in the cloud. On Android phones, check the Auto Backup settings under Google+ in Google Settings.
  • Delete photos from your phone or device: Most cloud services will delete information from storage once they are deleted from your device, as long as the device is synced with the cloud service. You can also log in to the cloud service's website to check out what is being stored, technology analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy says.


Jeff  Schilling,  Chief Security Officer at FireHost, a cyber security firm in Texas that focuses on data and cloud security

Mary Anne Franks, Associate Professor of Law, University of Miami School of Law. Her research and teaching interests include cyberlaw, self-defense, discrimination, free speech and privacy

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