Responsible for the massive hack of female celebrities’ nude photos is a former high school teacher from central Virginia.
Christopher Brannan, 30, admitted in the front of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond, that he illegally accessed more than 200 Apple iCloud, Facebook and Yahoo accounts and downloaded people’s personal pictures and videos.
He also hacked into the account of his minor sister-in-law, as well as into the current and former teachers and students from Lee-Davis High School, where he taught special education until 2015.
Brannan was sentenced to 34 months in prison; he has agreed to pay restitution.
Brannan modus operandi, like others implicated in the “Celebgate,” was to use social engineering to maneuver his way into celebrities’ social media accounts, using research to figure out their security questions and sending fake Apple emails to get log-in information. After he then used a Russian program called Elcomsoft to download entire iCloud accounts. All the stolen data were used in trades of usernames, passwords, and photos.
Remember everything can be hacked. In order to stay away from any threats related to the cyber world, we recommend the install of antivirus for Windows or antivirus for Mac on every device that you own, depending on which OS your device is running. If you are a company, it is also recommended to hire every year a specialized cybersecurity company that will run annual tests on your company’s network. These tests include penetration testing and ethical hacking tests;
Brannan attorneys declared “[He] was lonely, not socially active, and essentially replacing his own lack of social interaction with the viewing of photos of the lives of others,” and argued that his client should not be labeled a sex offender.
The famous 2014 hacks exposed hundreds of celebrities’ personal photos. In 2016, Ryan Collins, 38, of Pennsylvania became the first person caught in the celebrity hacking; he served 18 months in prison. He was followed by George Garofano, a 27-year-old from Connecticut, which is now serving an eight-month sentence. The next one was Emilio Herrera, 33, of Chicago that now is serving 16 months; and before Brannan, Edward Majerczyk, a 31-year-old also from Chicago, was given a nine-month sentence.
Jennifer Lawrence and other actors whose nude photos were stolen described the hacks as a sex crime, but the men pleaded guilty only to computer and identity-theft charges.
Keep in mind that our modern society is dependent on computers, mobile devices, and the use of the internet always stay safe and secured.
We would continue to monitor this cybersecurity problem. Meanwhile, users should keep a keen eye out for any cyber attacks. Remember to use an antivirus for Windows or antivirus for Mac in every device that you own, depending on which OS your machine is running, If you are a company we recommend to hire every year a specialized cybersecurity company that will run annual tests on your company’s network, tests like this include: penetration testing and ethical hacking.