A 29 year old hacker in Oregon in the United States has pleaded guilty in a case accusing him of felony hacking. Andrew Helton is from Astoria in Oregon and can face a prison sentence of around 5 years. He has been accused to have stolen explicit and nude photographs of around 13 people, some of whom are Hollywood celebrities.
Helton has pleaded guilty of having stolen these images but he is not convicted of sharing or selling them online. Theft of personal images of people and especially celebrities has emerged as a top cybercrime in the US in the last couple of years. The leaking of celebrities images in 2014 is a case in point however, this incident is not related to the leaking of the celebrity pictures online.
What was the earlier incident?
In 2014, images of several top Hollywood celebrities include Jennifer Lawrence and Mila Kunis were leaked online. Many of these images were nude images of these celebrities and it resulted in a large scale investigation, arrests and penalties. However, the current incident is not related to it.
How Helton got the images?
Helton followed a conning method by sending phishing mails to these 13 individuals. These people were fooled into believing that the mails are from Google or Apple and were encouraged to click on the links in the mail which diverted them to another portal where they were asked to enter login ids and passwords. Through this method, Helton was able to gain access to around 448 ids and passwords including 363 email accounts. He then accessed these accounts and stole the data which included nude and other explicit images of 13 persons, some of which are celebrities whose identities have not been revealed.
The investigators have stated that Helton did not share any of these images or tried selling them. His offence is limited to gaining unauthorised access to these accounts and staling the photographs.
Data security – a major issue
Such instances bring to light the more serious issue of data security. The government as well as service providers must implement more robust security measures.