Gone are the days when celebrities suffered from lost or stolen video cassettes that held embarrassing or scandalizing secrets. There was once a time when one of the only threats from pasts of famous faces was a photograph negative from a moment of indiscretion. Today, celebrities face the constant threat of mobile hacks in which damaging, or at least humiliating images, messages, and videos can be stolen remotely from their phones. A hacker has no need to meet a celebrity or to even so much as hold their mobile device in order to gain access to their most private moments. All that these criminals need is a good guess about user names and passwords to make international news. These celebrity scandals should be a lesson to us all that data on mobile devices is not necessarily safe from the outside world.
When Scarlet Johansen took compromising photos of herself on her cell phone she never intended for the greater public to have access to them. These scandalous photos created a web sensation across the globe when they were leaked anonymously via the internet. One by one, NSFW images of Johansen reached a global audience. Johansen and other celebrities who experienced this same phenomenon, including Mila Kunis and Renee Olstead, might have had no clue as to how their cell phone photos were obtained. The culprit turned out to be a complete stranger in Florida who had hacked into their mobile email accounts by guessing security questions on their personal emails. Christopher Chaney was recently sentenced to ten years in prison for these crimes.
In one of the first-ever celebrity phone hacks, Paris Hilton’s mobile device was hit by an anonymous group of teenage hackers. These devious, wiz kids gained access to one of T-Mobile security platforms by pretending to be company employees. They then used a previously unknown security flaw in the mobile provider’s framework to get their hands on private data for subscribers. From there, it was no problem to access Hilton’s private database that included photos, emails, and a treasure trove of information on herself and other celebrities. Before this attack was over, the private phone numbers for many other celebrities, including Christina Aguilera and Eminem, had been released. Private photos of the star and her companions were also made available to the public, as well as many juicy tidbits of information regarding Hilton’s famous friends that she had privately held on her phone.
The British actor was the victim of an elaborate phone-hacking scheme between the years of 2003 to 2006. For many years, Law wondered just how his private information was making its way to the press, namely through Britain’s popular tabloid News of the World. Some number of years later, in 2010, the actor discovered that the press outlet had been targeting him through hacking his phone. Through this devious behavior News of the World had gained access to calls regarding everything from messages to his children’s nanny to meetings with his friends. Law claimed that this dogged and illegal pursuit of his private information made him suspicious of everyone around him and had a profound effect on his life. He was rewarded with a hefty sum of 130,000 pounds for his troubles.
This is a Guest Post by Kate Simmons, a part time blogger and full time tech enthusiast. Kate currently represents NQ Mobile, a leading mobile security and productivity company. NQ mobile security software at nq.com offers full protection against mobile hacks and viruses.