‘Celebgate’ iCloud Hacker Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison
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Ryan Collins of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, will spend 18 months in prison for his role in the infamous ‘Celebgate’ photo leak of 2014. Earlier this year in May, Collins pled guilty to violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act when he carried out a phishing campaign to break into at least 50 iCloud and 72 Gmail accounts between 2012 and 2014.
Many of those accounts belonged to famous actresses– including Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, and Scarlett Johansson– who were tricked into giving him sensitive data and passwords when they received fake emails from Google or Apple requesting their account information.
According to the BBC, Collins used fraudulent email addresses, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, in order to disguise his emails as automated security messages from Apple and Google.
Once the celebrities handed over their account information, Collins used it to access and download their personal information, including nude photos and videos, according to federal prosecutors. In certain cases, Collins used a software program to download copies of the celebrities’ entire Apple iCloud backups. In addition, Collins ran a modeling scam to trick victims into sending him nude photos. In total, his hacking and scamming activities affected over 600 victims, according to the Justice Department.
Notably, investigators found no evidence that Collins had actually leaked, shared, or uploaded the Celebgate photos, which first appeared on 4chan in August 2014, and did not charge him for the leaks.
The incident prompted Apple to broaden the use of two-factor authentication when it released iOS 8 in September 2014, and add security notifications to alert users whenever someone tries to change an account password or restore iCloud data.