Cast member Jennifer Lawrence poses at the premiere of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" in Los Angeles, California November 18, 2013. The movie opens in the U.S. on November 22. Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
Attention turns to the FBI and Apple today after the hacking of nude celebrity photos, including those of Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence and model Kate Upton.
The FBI said Monday it was addressing allegations that online accounts of several celebrities, including Lawrence, had been hacked, leading to the posting of their nude photographs online.
The agency didn't say what actions it was taking to investigate who was responsible for posting images of Lawrence and other stars.
Apple said Monday it was looking into whether its online service iCloud had been hacked to obtain the intimate images.
The tech website Engadget.com reported Monday that a security flaw in Apple's Find My iPhone app may have allowed someone to get iCloud passwords using a "brute force" attack, and then post the photos on the bulletin-board website 4chan.org asking for money to view them.
The security flaw was reported Saturday in posts on the computer code-sharing site GitHub. On Monday, however, a GitHub poster said that the bug, nicknamed "ibrute," had been fixed, USA Today said.
A 4chan user began posting the images, which included nude photographs of Lawrence, Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton, and other movie and television personalities, shortly after 4 p.m. ET Sunday.
Apple's iCloud service offers automated backup capability to Mac and iPhone users, so that in some cases, the contents of phones and computers may be uploaded and stored on iCloud servers long after users may have forgotten they requested it.
Lawrence, a three-time Oscar nominee who won for her role in Silver Linings Playbook, contacted authorities after the images began appearing Sunday.
Naked images purporting to be of other female stars were also posted, although the authenticity of many couldn't be confirmed. The source of the leak was unclear.
"This is a flagrant violation of privacy," Lawrence's publicist, Liz Mahoney, wrote in a statement. "The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence."
The FBI said it was "aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter."
"Any further comment would be inappropriate at this time," spokeswoman Laura Eimiller wrote in a statement.
Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said the company was investigating whether any iCloud accounts had been tampered with, but she did not give any further details.
"We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report," she said.
Actor Mary Elizabeth Winstead also confirmed that nude photos of her were posted online.
"To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves," Winstead posted on Twitter. Winstead, who starred in Final Destination 3 and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, wrote that she thought the images had been destroyed.
"Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this," Winstead wrote.
The FBI has investigated previous leaks of nude celebrity images, including leaks involving Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, Christina Aguilera and footage of television sports reporter Erin Andrews in a Tennessee hotel room. Those cases resulted in convictions.
How widespread the hacking of celebrity photos was is not immediately clear. Some of the images were quickly denounced as fakes.
Social Security numbers
Some cybersecurity experts speculated that hackers may have obtained a cache of private celebrity images by exploiting weaknesses in an online image-storing platform.
"It is important for celebrities and the general public to remember that images and data no longer just reside on the device that captured it," security researcher Ken Westin wrote in a blog post Monday.
"Once images and other data are uploaded to the cloud, it becomes much more difficult to control who has access to it, even if we think it is private."
Private information and images of celebrities are frequent targets for hackers.
Last year, a site posted credit reports, Social Security numbers and other financial info on celebrities, including rapper Jay Z and his wife, Beyonce, Mel Gibson, Ashton Kutcher and many others.
Johansson, Kunis and Aguilera were hacked by Florida resident Christopher Chaney, who used publicly available information to hack into the email accounts of more than 50 people in the entertainment industry.
"I have been truly humiliated and embarrassed," Johansson said in a tearful videotaped statement played in court at Chaney's sentencing in December 2012.
"That feeling of security can never be given back and there is no compensation that can restore the feeling one has from such a large invasion of privacy," Aguilera wrote in a statement before Chaney was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
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