back to article Middle-aged US bloke pleads guilty to iCloud celeb nude photo hack

A 36-year-old US man has admitted hacking into the iCloud and Gmail accounts of celebrities through a long-running phishing attack. Ryan Collins, from Lancaster in Pennsylvania, admitted he had illegally accessed and downloaded images from 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts that he had managed to compromise through …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who called it Celebgate? Everywhere I've seen it was known as The Fappening!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Towards the end, even the main stream media accepted the official nomenclature 'the fappening'.

      Anyway, this guy is in serious trouble for crossing the celebrity-industrial complex.

      1. Richard Wharram

        Yep

        Fappening I've heard of. Celebgate I've never heard of. Bloody prudeish retcon. Free the Fap!

    2. Omar Smith
      Joke

      FAP FAP FAP UUUAAAAGH!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They gave him their password

    Surely that means it's not unauthorised?

    I think recently car Insurance companies have been arguing that leaving your keys inside a locked house but in view still doesn't count as you paying due care to the security of your vehicle.

    So why's it different if you provide someone with a username and password to your email account? You authorised them to use your credentials and provided them with those credentials.

    What he did was wrong, it was a breach of privacy, but the victims are equally to blame for giving out their usernames/passwords.

    1. Alex King

      Re: They gave him their password

      Equally to blame? Presumably in the way in which rape victims are equally to blame on account of wearing a short skirt? Or in the way in which a carjacking victim is for not locking their doors when in the car? Or that I would be if I got burgled because I didn't brick up my windows?

      FFS.

    2. Phil Endecott Silver badge

      Re: They gave him their password

      In your car insurance example, the insurance company are not saying that stealing the car was legal because of where you left your keys; they're only saying that they won't pay out. The theif, if caught, would still be convicted.

    3. Mycho Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: They gave him their password

      They didn't give permission, therefore it was still a crime. Likewise if I ask someone to keep an eye on my pint for a minute I don't give them permission to drink it.

      That said, you should be able to tell people to keep their passwords secret without being accused of victim blaming. Otherwise there is no security.

    4. joeW

      Re: They gave him their password

      Presumably the difference is the element of fraud. The alleged "hacker" in this case misrepresented himself as an employee of Apple and/or Google. If he'd emailled his targets and said "Hi I'm Ryan Collins, a complete randomer from Lancaster PA - can I have your passwords please?" then he might be in the clear rather than the clink.

    5. Velv Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: They gave him their password

      He pled guilty to one count of unauthorised access to a computer system.

      That doesn't mean that was one of the 122 accounts he accessed (which will be 122 separate counts of phishing or fraud or whatever that actually is in legal terms when you trick the victim into granting you access). It's an entirely different and charge.

      But the evidence on that one unauthorised access was probably the best evidence they had of securing a conviction without going to court, the threat to him being a court might find him guilty of the 122 counts of fraud and a substantially larger sentence.

    6. Seajay

      Re: They gave him their password

      Not really - the person who steals your house keys from the car, breaks into your house and nicks your stuff is still breaking the law - whether your insurance company will give you the money back is a completely different thing. Same here. Whilst you may be a bit dim in giving out your details to a phisher, that doesn't make it lawful for the phisher to use them. As with an unlocked house, just because you CAN access a computer system doesn't mean that it is lawful for you to do so.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: They gave him their password

        @seajay

        Somewhere out there are a university and a federal prosecutor that agree with you 100%. Very aggressively too.

    7. John Lilburne Silver badge

      Re: They gave him their password

      Insurance companies mostly have senior Tory party members on the board and have wealthy investors. Different standards apply when these sort of people are asked to cash out.

    8. Old Handle

      Re: They gave him their password

      I would agree if he actually said, "Hi, I'd like your username and password so I can rifle through your files." But he claimed to be from, Apple or Google and almost certainly said it was to "verify their identity" or something of the sort, so I don't think that really counts as giving him permission to do what he did.

      1. Ian 55

        Re: They gave him their password

        Certainly if I want to verify someone's identity, seeing nude pictures of them is very useful...

        1. Michael Thibault
          Holmes

          Re: They gave him their password

          ... iff you've previously seen them in the raw. Otherwise, it's a bit of a distraction from the details you have seen up close.

    9. Michael Thibault

      Re: They gave him their password

      >the victims are equally to blame for giving out their usernames/passwords>

      Unfortunately, the wording here gives a leg-up to those who are inclined to invoke 'victim-blaming' at every pass. It's the word "equally"; it's inclusion puts the celebs affected in the same class (or fix) as the perpetrator. Yes, it's acknowledged that what he did deserved at least a fingering, but they shouldn't (and didn't) share his punishment. They should, though, be recognised as bearing some of the responsibility for the breach for having opened the kimono so wide and so readily.

      *cough*

  3. ZSn

    Middle aged?

    Is 36 middle aged note? Ye gods I most be an antique then!

    1. breakfast

      Re: Middle aged?

      For a long time Middle Aged meant "older than me" in my mind, but thinking back I would say 34 is very much the gateway to middle age.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Middle aged?

        34! NOoooooo. That makes we want to cry into my slippers. I'll get my cap and windbreaker. Sniff

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Middle aged?

          I find it depends on two things:

          1) How many times you need to wee in the night after a jolly good session- once you can no longer hard core it and power piss in the morning then you are middle aged. Once you need to go more than once in the night then you are getting on. When you live on the khazi then you are old.

          2) how many times you say "blimey, when I was a kid it wasn't that bad". Maybe once is ok but repeating yourself then you are getting on.

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Middle aged?

          Now, now.. just go buy a red sports car (convertible preferably) and will be well.

          1. VinceH Silver badge

            Re: Middle aged?

            "Now, now.. just go buy a red sports car (convertible preferably) and will be well."

            Wait - what?

            You're describing my first two cars.

    2. Richard 120

      Re: Middle aged?

      Not young, not old, therefore middle.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: Middle aged?

        Well according to this piece on philly.com the average male life expectancy in Lancaster, PA is a tick under 78 so half of that would be 39. If we're dividing it into three bands then anything between 26 and 52 falls in the middle. Didn't think it started so low, did you?

        1. Grikath Silver badge

          Re: Middle aged?

          well... according to your average Teenager anything over 20 is "old"...

          Perspective is everything.. Personally I'm on final approach to 50, but I will apply Interesting Times to anyone who calls me/treats me as Old. I am, however, slowly starting to entertain the option that "middle aged" may or may be applicable in the near future. Say.. the next decade or so..

    3. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Middle aged?

      ..."Middle aged?

      Is 36 middle aged note? Ye gods I most be an antique then!..."

      WHAT??!?!? SPEAK UP!!!! NEARLY TEN PAST THREE!!

    4. Nextweek

      Re: Middle aged?

      On the plus side you are now entitled to a mid-life crisis.

    5. The bigger, blacker box.

      Re: Middle aged?

      It's a stretch to call 36 "middle aged", there's no dictionary definition which would make 36 middle aged, and dictionaries usually reflect the popular zeitgeist, so I think the El Reg is using it in a way which does not match common understanding.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_age

  4. ravenviz Silver badge
    Angel

    Re: Middle aged?

    The peak of middle age is 18+((82*-18)/2) = 50. So if 35 is the start then 65 is the end, 65 - 82 being 'old'. I would say that seems about right.

    *average life expectancy in UK

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Middle aged?

      UK life expectancy should be dropping soon due to bad diets and decimation of national heath care.

      1. Owain 1
        Pint

        Re: Middle aged?

        I'm planning on preserving myself with alcohol.

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

          Re: Middle aged?

          I plan on living forever or die trying.

      2. 100113.1537

        Re: Middle aged?

        "UK life expectancy should be dropping soon due to bad diets and decimation of national heath care."

        People have been saying that for over 10 years now, but there is no evidence......

  5. Darryl

    So all those celebrities were actually suckered by a boring phishing email?

    I'm tempted to stop taking their advice when it comes to global warming and vaccination.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm beginning to think that even their fashion advice might be suspect...............

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It should be no surprise that people who sell their lives to the Hollywood machine are quite gullible.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Mostly rich though.

  6. earl grey Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Ok, so i'm just old

    But i'm guessing that with a leveled down plea bargain they don't have to have a trial and enter all the pictures and movies he gathered into evidence in court and the coppers can keep them all for their own "evidence".

  7. Efros

    No Security Breach

    Just no fixing "stupid" I suppose.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No Security Breach

      There should be a charge of Uncommon Stupidity for the "celebs" caught out by this.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No Security Breach

        There is already such a charge, it's punishable by being tricked into going on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.

  8. Elmer Phud Silver badge
    Facepalm

    He sent e-mails to victims that appeared to be from Apple or Google

    O F F S!

  9. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    "Celebrity nude photos stolen from hacked cloud" seems to be a story that recurs every few weeks. newspapers could keep the page as a template and just change the names. What I can't understand is the back-story:

    Agent Congratulations, Miss X, you've got the part/won a quiz show/appeared in a tabloid story/etc. You're a celebrity!

    Miss X Whoopee! I'll rush off home and upload lots of nude selfies to AWS.

  10. Old Handle

    He got off pretty lightly by US standards. I guess that seems fairly reasonable to a serious but nonviolent crime. Of course the usual suspects are screaming that he should be locked up for good.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fishy

    So, he managed to get the private email addresses (not PR managed ones) of all these celebs and they all responded to the phishing emails? Wasn't there talk of an iCloud backdoor that was firmly shut soon after this happened? Seems some kind of deal has been made to cover that up.

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Fishy

      "....Fishy

      So, he managed to get the private email addresses (not PR managed ones) of all these celebs and they all responded to the phishing emails? Wasn't there talk of an iCloud backdoor that was firmly shut soon after this happened? Seems some kind of deal has been made to cover that up..."

      That was my first thought too - so many celebs' private email addresses and they all responded to phishing emails from addresses formed like tech_support107@gmail.com according to (I think it was) the BBC website.

      Of the two things there (I can see _some_ of them being dumb enough or out of touch with reality enough to respond to such emails) that he somehow had access to all their personal email addresses is somewhat suspect.

  12. Blergh

    Obligatory XKCD

    But did he get one of these first?

    http://xkcd.com/1694/

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