Emma Watson has reportedly become the latest victim of the celebrity nude photo scandal, and there is a lawsuit gearing up to take on the perpetrators.
Private images of Watson had been stolen during a clothes fitting, though her spokesperson said that there were no nude photos in that particular hack. From the information revealed thus far, it would seem that the hackers in this case are the same ones that were involved in the nude photo hack that revealed images of Jennifer Lawrence, Olivia Munn and Kim Kardashian, among others.
These and other photos first start making the rounds on image forums and on the "dark web," an area of the internet where users can be anonymous and exchange information and data, in an exchange of what is often illegal content. Cyber security expert Mark James from IT firm ESET noted that a cyber attack could have, at some point, had a role in the disclosure of these photos.
“These photos could have come from anywhere – it may be a direct hack against one of the many cloud storage services we subscribe and upload to, or it may simply be another case of password re-use obtained from the sheer volume of our private data being leaked, stolen and posted online,” James said. “When it comes to celebrities they only need a few hits from all those millions of leaked accounts to make it worthwhile.”
What this latest exposure of private photos of celebrities seems to show is just how pervasive a rising trend of hackers bent on intruding upon the lives of A-listers. The problem is, celebrity status might afford the best in security, or special entry to a range of events, but it does not prevent celebrities from feeling exposed and exploited by the hack.
While it's been notoriously difficult to find these hackers and bring them to justice, the pursuit hasn't been altogether impossible. In 2016, for instance, Ryan Collins pleaded guilty to hacking hundreds of celebrity Gmail and Apple iCloud accounts and is currently serving 18 months in federal prison.
The problem is in the Fappening 2.0 case, as it's been dubbed in the media, is that no one is quite sure who is behind the hacking, which makes it more than a little difficult to determine who to indict for the offence. Mark James also noted that society's lack of changing passwords on a regular basis also makes it quite easy in some respects for hackers to find a way in to some of these accounts.
“We don’t always check and change our passwords as often as we should and once all our data gets collated online, hackers will use all those credentials to gain access to other potential goldmines," he said.
This is not the first time that Emma Watson has been targeted, however. Watson was previously threatened with a leak of nude photos shortly after her address to the United Nations in 2014. It was one of her first addresses as a UN Ambassador for Women, a role she takes very seriously. At a Facebook event the following year, she expressed confidence that the whole threat was actually a hoax, especially given she was being threatened with a nude photo leak less than 12 hours after giving an address at the United Nations.
"The minute I stepped up and talked about women's rights I was immediately threatened - within less than 12 hours I was receiving threats," she said.
Watson and Mean Girls' co-star Amanda Seyfried were among those who were targeted in this Fappening, and while legal action is being pursued, according to the involved celebrities' representatives, it remains to be seen how this will ultimately be dealt with.