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‘Celebgate’ Hacker Jailed

Tue 31 Jan 2017

In the months between November 2013 and August 2014, the iCloud and Gmail accounts of around 30 celebrities were hacked and over 500 illegally-obtained photos and videos were leaked to the Internet. Many of these photos and videos contained nudity, leading celebrity victim, Jennifer Lawrence, to label the leak as a ‘sex crime’, in an interview with Vanity Fair. However, the hacker behind ‘Celebgate’ has since been identified, arrested and tried, resulting in a sentence of nine months in federal prison.

Phishing for Photos

Chicago citizen, Edward Majerczyk, was found guilty of masterminding an elaborate phishing scheme, in which he sent emails to the victims, apparently from trusted Internet service providers. Using these emails, the hacker was able to trick a number of celebrities into revealing their usernames and passwords, which he then used to access over 300 email and storage accounts. On these accounts, he found and appropriated significant numbers of private media, which was then leaked online.

Intrusion into Private Lives

While none of the victims were named in court, some celebrities known to have fallen foul of Majerczyk’s machinations include Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, Kate Upton and US sports star, Hope Solo. In sentencing, the judge said that cyber attacks of this sort were the result of living in a world that “inspires secrecy and anonymity and intrusion into the affairs of people’s private lives.” In addition to the nine-month jail term, the hacker was also ordered to pay $5,700 to one celebrity victim who had subsequently undergone counselling, as a result of the trauma involved.

The Effects of the Hack

In her interview with Vanity Fair, actress Jennifer Lawrence said that “I was just so afraid. I didn’t know how this would affect my career. Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world”.

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