Hackers know how to use people’s interests against them.
Like all aspects of their lives, the internet trials and tribulations of celebrities are played out in public.
Reports of celebrities getting hacked are all too common nowadays. The very things that make them famous are the same things that make them targets for hackers.
This month Pippa Middleton, the sister of Kate Middleton, the wife of second-in-line to the British throne Prince William, secured a publishing ban on material apparently stolen from her iCloud account in the High Court.
The apparent hack of images from Middleton’s iCloud account, which contained around 3,000 private photographs including some of members of the Royal Family, came to light when the Sun and the Daily Mail were approached and offered the images for £50,000.
The news came as the perpetrator of one of the most infamous celebrity hacks pleaded guilty in court.
Edward Majerczyk pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unauthorised access to a protected computer after he obtained photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Kirsten Dunst.
Ryan Collins, another hacker responsible for stealing celebrity photos, pleaded guilty to charges earlier this year.
Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones was also recently subject to a hack of her own website, which was used by the hackers to post her personal information.
Leslie Jones’s case also shows how online targeting of celebrities is not limited to hacks for financial motives but also includes bullying and harassment, often racist or sexist.
Coming from the other direction, celebrities’ identities are being abused by hackers to target members of the public.
Research by McAfee has revealed the depth and breadth of celebrity-based deception on the web.
It found that hackers are setting up bogus sites designed to appear in search results around particular celebrities.
The celebrity who generated the most dangerous search results was Ellie Goulding. She was followed by Charlotte Crosby, Rita Ora, Calvin Harris and Holly Hagan.
According to the accompanying survey, 44 percent of UK citizens would not check a site was safe before clicking it while 36 percent do not know what malware is.
Is there a common link here? If there is a lesson from the online travails of celebrities, it is in the insight into the motivations and methods of cyber criminals.
Essentially, hackers understand people. Many of the above problems are fed by people’s fascination with celebrities, which is what makes the data obtained from the hacks valuable and what drives people to the malicious search results.
While a leak of their photos might not generate headlines, every individual and organisation hold some data that could be valuable to attackers. This could seem mundane, including even information such as names, but could still fall victim to an attack.
It is crucial to realise the value of your data and the importance of taking whatever steps you can to protect it.
In addition, to avoid being lured to malicious links, people need to realise that hackers understand them and apply more caution in their usage of the internet.