back to article Are you a HOT CELEB? Think your SEXY PICS are safe? Maybe NOT

Rather than a single iCloud hack, this week's furore over celebrity nude pics looks more like the work of one or many "secret circles" of hackers whose members mingle on anarchic messageboard 4Chan to share their digital loot from computers and phones they've cracked over a period of years. The photos were, according to one …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...secret circle snitch..."

    ,,,and then there's also the GCHQ "secret circle" and the NSA "secret circle"....

    I wonder if Angela Merkel has any selfies out on iCloud?

    Just saying!

    1. Owain 1

      Wonder if... Angela Merkel has any selfies

      I suggest a kickstarter fund to pay to keep them out of the public domain.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "...secret circle snitch..."

      Yes, sort of. You can find her nude picture easily, it was taken when she was about 17 on a nudist beach (FKK in German)

  2. tony2heads


    I see what you did there!

  3. Shaha Alam

    out of interest...

    i wonder how many of the hackers turn out to be working for the NSA or GCHQ?

  4. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Sell out your friends cheap

    This seems to be common thread these days - the lack of any loyalty or morals and the ease with which any thoughts of right or wrong can be discarded or erased. It's much easier to sell your "friends" when the bulk of your interactions are via Facebook than when you meet them in the pub, face to face.

    I'm starting to think that social interaction via the Internet is subtly corrosive in ways that are not easy to define.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Sell out your friends cheap

      I guess Stalin and the Nazi glitterati must have been heavy facebookers?

      1. oolor

        Re: Stalin and the Nazi glitterati

        Not at all. Do you know how hard it is to purge those pics?

  5. VinceH

    "This version of events explains why some of the nude celeb images were dated as far back as 2011 and others were taken just last month."

    The dates of the pictures has been mentioned a few times, and used as evidence to suggest the cache was grabbed over time. As it happens, it's probably true true - but the dates the photos were taken does not have a bearing on that. Photos tend not to expire over time unlike, say, milk. A photo taken ten years ago can still exist today, in the possession of the person in (or who took) it, and possibly even be stored in the cloud. Possibly even in Apple's iCloud, even if the photo was taken on some other device from the time.

    1. dan1980


      "Photos tend not to expire over time unlike, say, milk."

      I don't know mate - some of my old photos induce sick stomachs in the people exposed to them.

      1. VinceH

        Ah, but did they also do that at the time they were taken, rather than after some kind of 'expiry date' ? :p

  6. AbelSoul

    "Cubrilovic has examined degenerate nude selfie and revenge porn networks"

    Purely for research purposes, of course.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Sell-outs and friend betrayers

    Such a nice society some people have.

    I know what the word "friend" means. I may not have 100+ "friends", but my friends would never do that to me. Nor I to they.

    1. tony2heads

      Re: Sell-outs and friend betrayers

      Betray Your Family & Friends. Fabulous Prizes to be Won" -to quote from Red Dwarf

  8. AsherGoldbergstein

    The pictures originated from the /stol/ (stolen) and /c/ (celebrity) boards on AnonIb, an imageboard that is accessible through tor.

  9. TheMole

    So you cant trust thieves.

    Learn something new every day !

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is it...

    with starlets and nude / sex pictures of themselves. do they all secretly dream of being porn stars? Or why are they doing it?

    1. Waspy

      Re: What is it...

      I thought that. Are they so busy that they can't show their partners this stuff for real?

    2. Blank Reg

      Re: What is it...

      I don't get it either. Sometimes such leaks are on purpose just for the publicity. For the rest, if they don't want their nude photos plastered across the Internet then the simple solution is to not take any nude photos in the first place.

      If it's on the Internet and you're a celebrity or other target of interest then just assume that someday someone will try to access your data.

      1. fendjinn

        Re: What is it...

        If you're a successful actor in a relationship with a successful actor then you're going to spend quite a lot of time in different parts of the world. Sending dirty selfies in those circumstances isn't crazy. Incautious and ill-advised yes but not totally beyond understanding to a neautral onlooker.

        Particularly if you're 22 or thereabouts. Can't speak for anyone else but I was a frikkin' idiot when I was 22, particularly where dangly bits were concerned.

  11. Waspy

    Could many of these hacks have been prevented with 2-step authentication?

    I know Google and Windows Phone/Outlook offer 2-step authentication, as well as Yahoo (a family member got hacked on her yahoo and I sent her instructions on how to 2-step her account, no idea if she bothered in the end though). Does Apple offer 2-step for icloud? can't help but think this may have prevented unwanted brute-force break-ins, anyone care to correct me if I'm wrong?

    If I am correct then these companies need to educate their users more (to be fair to microsoft, I know they nag you to set up 2-step whenever you change password using 'forgotten password' link). I highly doubt that many of these celebs (or many non-celebs either) know what 2-step authentication is and this needs to change.

    1. John Tserkezis

      Re: Could many of these hacks have been prevented with 2-step authentication?

      "Could many of these hacks have been prevented with 2-step authentication?"

      Could many of those not had been hacked if the owners picked a password that was actually WORTHY of being called a password, AND not stored on a cloud accout where you can brute force it without the owner realising?

      Nope, that's too hard, it's easier if you start a scare campaign on tracking down the "criminal" who hacked it in the first place.

  12. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    4chan is not written 4Chan

    "Cubrilovic has examined degenerate nude selfie and revenge porn networks"

    Something like nude white dwarves, but evil and networked?

    Anway, WHERE are those pics of Miss Hunger Games?

    1. John Sanders

      Re: 4chan is not written 4Chan

      They are there in 4chan in the /b/ board, where else?

      in reddit of course:

      Totally agree with the nude white evil networked dwarves!

    2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: 4chan is not written 4Chan

      He must have been studying the quantum effects of highly compressed cold amateur porn matter...

  13. Jim 59

    So yeah backing up your phone to a stranger's computer, that's totally safe.

    This is partly the IT industry's fault, for giving the impression that cloud/remote server/stranger's computer is a safe thing, to be trusted without a second thought, that all strangers' intentions are always good, etc etc etc.

    El Reg pokes fun at the cloud fluffers, and they are indeed funny to us. But for the non-technical layman/celebrity, the illusion of safety they peddle is dangerous.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      The cloud should never be used for sensitive data like nude selfies.

      It should only be used to store NHS medical records or the whole country's tax data

  14. psychonaut

    i dont understand

    why would you cover your nipples in a selfie where you are otherwise almost nude?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: i dont understand

      Isn't that the title of a Country and Western song?

    2. Michael Thibault

      Re: i dont understand

      >why would you cover your nipples in a selfie

      Personally, I do it so as not to let my market cap slip--which can happen if you start giving the product away. I can't speak for others, though.

  15. Elmer Phud

    Since when has . . .

    . . . 'Password' , '12345678' or 'sesame' been "Brute Froce"?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, now explain to me..

    .. why coverage has almost exclusively focused on Apple devices?

    The photos were, according to one rumour investigated by The Register, stolen from various cloud backup accounts linked to Apple iPhones, Google Android devices and Windows phones.

    Was Google creatively adjusting search results?

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: So, now explain to me..

      Maybe the photos in question were taken using iPhones?

      Usually pretty obvious in mirror-selfies, and the meta-data always includes it anyway.

      By most accounts that's the case - though I doubt the meta data is still attached to the photos, as otherwise the media would be talking about how the pics also exposed where these people live, as well as parts of their bodies that they didn't want public.

  17. Gis Bun


    Except for the fact that some of them are just plain dumb, why would any celebrity have nude pictures of themselves stored in the cloud? Want to back up critical/personal information, use a USB key and shove it in a safe at a bank.

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