Nearly 600 iCloud Accounts Were Breached in ‘Celebgate’ Nude Photo Hack

at 11:23 am | By
Jennifer Lawrence, nude photo leak, sex crime, celebgate,

New troubling details about the awful nude celebrity photo leak resulting from an iCloud breach that occurred last year, dubbed “Celebgate,” have arisen from the FBI investigation.

According to unsealed federal court documents, almost 600 online storage accounts were breached, thus confirming that Celebgate is perhaps bigger than first imagined.

In a search warrant affidavit recently unsealed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, NBC News reports that the FBI have been zeroing in on an address on the South Side of Chicago as early as October.

Using IP (Internet protocol) data, the compromised iCloud accounts were accessed by a single computer in association with two email addresses belonging to Emilio Herrera, 30. The FBI’s affidavit did not say Herrera was a suspect, and only that the investigation is “ongoing.”

However, NBC News notes that just because Herrera (who does not have a criminal record) has been identified, it does not mean he is a suspect. “IP and email addresses can be masked or spoofed through a variety of technologies, and Internet data can be routed through third-party computers without their owners’ knowledge using any of a number of software packages.”

There have been no other documents made public other than the unsealed affidavit, so what exactly investigators found in Herrera’s home is unknown. NBC does note, however, that “in asking for the warrant, the FBI revealed that potentially hundreds — theoretically almost 2,500 — iCloud accounts were targeted.”

Furthermore, iCloud itself was not breached, but rather users’ personal account information (account names, passwords, security questions).

According to the affidavit, the computer address was successfully used to accessed 572 unique iCloud accounts — each of them an average of about six times. In addition, it said, the computer address was used in almost 5,000 attempts to reset 1,987 other iCloud passwords.

The affidavit doesn’t specify whether that number includes multiple attempts to hack the same accounts or whether almost 2,000 individual accounts were targeted. Nor does it say how many of those other attempts were successful.

According to the affidavit, “A number of them were accounts of celebrities who had photos leaked online,” and most of the rest — that is, accounts of people whose photos weren’t published — belonged to celebrities, models or their friends and families.”

Apple has since adopted stricter security measures to keep hackers from breaching users’ accounts.

Nearly 500 nude photos of Hollywood stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, Kaley Cuoco and a number of other female celebrities made their way onto the forum 4chan on August 31, 2014.

The photos spread like wildfire, and the next day Apple confirmed that there had been a targeted attack of personal information through iCloud. An FBI investigation has been underway ever since.

In October, Lawrence commented of the nude photo leak and rightfully called it a “sex crime.” She said in part to Vanity Fair:

It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these Web sites are responsible. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.

Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offense. You should cower with shame. Even people who I know and love say, ‘Oh, yeah, I looked at the pictures.’ I don’t want to get mad, but at the same time I’m thinking, I didn’t tell you that you could look at my naked body.