On August 31, 2014 leaked pictures were posted on the website 4chan that were allegedly taken through an exploit of iCloud, where iPhone photos are automatically synced.The photographs were allegedly sold for bitcoin. Victims of the hack were alleged to include Jennifer Lawrence, Jenny McCarthy, Rihanna, Kate Upton, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kirsten Dunst, Ariana Grande, and Victoria Justice.Lawrence and Winstead confirmed the authenticity of the photos, while Grande and Justice denied the photos were of them.
The event, which media outlets and internet users referred to under names such as "Celebgate" and "The Fappening", was met with a varied reaction from the media and fellow celebrities. Critics felt that the distribution of the images was a major invasion of privacy for their subjects, while some of the allegedly depicted subjects questioned their authenticity. The leak also prompted increased concern from analysts surrounding the privacy and security of cloud computing services such as iCloud'swith a particular emphasis on their use to store sensitive, private information.
Content and victims
The original release contained photos and videos of more than 100 individuals that were allegedly obtained from file storage on hacked iCloud accounts, including some the leakers claimed were A-list celebrities. Shortly after the photos were leaked, several affected celebrities issued statements to either confirm or deny the photos' authenticity. Celebrities that have confirmed the photos' authenticity include Jennifer Lawrence (confirmed by her publicist), Kate Upton and her boyfriend Justin Verlander (confirmed by Upton's lawyer), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (confirmed on Twitter), Jessica Brown Findlay (confirmed by spokesman), Kaley Cuoco (confirmed via Instagram), and Kirsten Dunst,who also criticized the iCloud service. Jill Scott confirmed on Twitter that one of the leaked photos was of her while stating that another was fake.
Celebrities who have denied the photos' authenticity include Ariana Grande and Yvonne Strahovski. Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney initially denied the images' authenticity on Twitter, then later confirmed that the photos were legitimate while also stating she was underage at the time they were taken. Victoria Justice denied that the photos were authentic but later stated on Twitter that she was pursuing legal actions and found the leak to be a massive invasion of not just her privacy, but of the privacy of all the celebrities affected by the leak.
According to security expert Nik Cubrilovic, in addition to the photographs, other personal information such as text messages, calendars, address books, phone call logs and any other data stored on their phones and backed up to the service were also likely stolen.
After their initial release on 4chan, the photographs were widely circulated online. Attempts made to suppress them were unsuccessful.
Celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton posted the photos on his blog after their release, but shortly took them down and issued an apology, saying he had acted in bad taste.
A major site of activity was on the link sharing website reddit, where a subreddit was created to share the photos and gained 75,000 subscriptions in a single day. Reddit admins were criticized for allowing this to take place in an alleged violation of their anti-doxing rules.
The photos were being passed around privately for at least a couple weeks before their public release on August 31, although the details are unclear. There are claims that many more unreleased photos, including video exists.
The hacker responsible for the leak, who described themselves as being a "collector", distributed the leaked images on the image boards 4chan and Anon-IB in exchange for Bitcoin. Ultimately, the images were widely circulated online via other channels, including Imgur and Tumblr. Celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton also re-posted some of the photos on his blog, but soon took them down and issued an apology, saying "He had acted in bad taste".
A major center of activity was the link-sharing website Reddit, after a poster with the username "Johnmcjohns" made a subreddit for sharing the photos; in a single day, it amassed over 100,000 followers. Reddit administrators were criticized for allowing this to take place in an alleged violation of their anti-doxing rules. As Maroney was under 18 at the time the photos of her were taken, Reddit staff took photos of her down and warned that anyone re-posting them, or underage photos of Liz Lee which had been circulating prior to this incident, would be permanently banned from the site and could be prosecuted for distributing child pornography.On September 7, citing copyright issues, Reddit banned its "TheFappening" subreddit, also saying the workload of dealing with them had become too much. Reddit banned another subreddit simply named "Fappening" on the same day.
The photo leak was condemned by The Guardian, as were those who continued to share the photos. BuzzFeed wrote that there was less slut shaming of the victims than was usual for a celebrity photo hack.
Shortly after the photos were posted online, an article in Forbes advised people not to use iCloud to store sensitive photos and another gave instructions as to how to turn off iCloud altogether.
The incident has been given many names, including "The Fappening" (a portmanteau of the words "the happening", and "fap"; internet slang for masturbation). and "Celebgate" (a reference to Watergate).
On October 1, 2014, Google was sued by lawyer Martin Singer for $100 million on behalf of unnamed victims of the leaks, alleging that Google had refused to respond to requests for the images to be removed from its platforms (including Blogger and YouTube), "[failing] to act expeditiously, and responsibly to remove the images", and "knowingly accommodating, facilitating, and perpetuating the unlawful conduct".
The FBI said that it was "aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter.Jennifer Lawrence contacted authorities and her publicist has stated that the authorities will prosecute anyone who posts leaked images of her. Forbes columnist, Joseph Steinberg, questioned whether the reactions by law enforcement and technology providers indicated that celebrities were being treated differently than ordinary Americans, which, in the case of law enforcement, may be illegal.
Apple said that it is investigating whether a security breach of their iCloud service was responsible for the leaked photographs stating that they "take user privacy very seriously". The security breach may be related to a vulnerability in Apple's Find My iPhone service which allows hackers to run a script which repeatedly guesses user passwords until the correct password is discovered. Apple has since fixed the flaw. Security experts said that the security breach could have been prevented had two-factor authentication been enabled."In general Apple has been a little late to the game in offering this kind of protection, and doesn't advertise it," said Darien Kindlund, director of threat research at security firm FireEye.
Bryan Hamade is the man who is denying that he is the hacker behind the 4Chan nude photo leaks. According to his story however, he was just trying to scam people out of BTC, which seems pretty reasonable considering how he got doxed by making such an amateur mistake.
New theories are surfacing that Apple's iCloud was never compromised to begin with, and what we are seeing is a picture dump brought to us by a celeb nude trading ring that populates AnonIB.
Despite this, further e-investigation has revealed that Bryan Hamade had went to extensive lengths to prove that he was the original poster of Jennifer Lawrence's nudes, and had posted timestamped evidence that he posted the nudes before they appeared on 4chan. More information regarding these discoveries can be found here: http://pastebin.com/cwAz9Y2r [ Clearnet link! ]
As of 07:55 Monday, Based iCloud Hacker Anon (OriginalGuy) is still on the loose, and recently posted to AnonIB promising more nudes. Also, he didn't get nearly as much BTC as he had hoped because of certain dickheads trying to scam everyone with fake addresses.
Second & Third round
On September 20, 2014, a second batch of similar private photos of additional celebrities was leaked by hackers. Less than a week later, on September 26, 2014, even more private photos of various celebrities were leaked by hackers.
Complete photo set available for download on The Pirate Bay