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Sanjay Katkar
3 Safety Precautions to Take after the Celebrity Photo Hack
September 5, 2014

Last week’s sensational news about nude celebrity pics from hacked accounts being published all over the Internet has again and again raised one single question – Are we using today’s gadgets responsibly? I sympathize with all those celebrities and people whose privacy was violated. Such incidents always create doubt in the mind about how safe are the cloud storage facilities on which we are so dependent.

The problem is not these services; these services are well secured and use high level of privacy protection mechanisms and encryption. The problem is with the users’ understanding of the technology and managing the security of their own account.

In response to last week’s celebrity photo hack, Apple issued a media advisory:

Our customers’ privacy and security are of utmost importance to us. After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet. None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud® or Find my iPhone.

So now who should be blamed for last week’s incident? Yes, of course, hackers are the main culprits and they should be behind bars for this act and no second thoughts on this. At the same time, the damage that is done is irreversible so it is time we take some learning out of this incident and try to understand that all things are not perfect and technology too can have its shortcomings and it is all upon us with regards to how we make use of it.

Today almost every smartphone has two cameras (front and rear) and everybody is moving around with a smartphone in hand. Clicking photos, videos, selfies has become so casual that many times you may be tempted to take photos or videos of something that cannot be shared publicly.

As always, prevention is better than cure. Simple things can save you from being victimized in such an incident and you should always try to follow them, especially if you are famous:

  1. You need to understand that most of the smartphones and tablets have the facility of configuring free cloud storage accounts and if configured, it may automatically send all the snaps and videos taken using that device as a backup to your cloud storage account. So if you have configured some free cloud storage account on your smart device for backup, better remember this while taking every photo or video using that device.
  2. The best idea is to not create any digital footprint of private content that must not be shared. If absolutely needed, make sure you know the gadget that you are using for the same through-and-through, and also make sure that it’s not connected to the Internet. A better idea would be to use a digital camera without any cloud connection instead of a smartphone.
  3. Know what you are clicking, where you are storing and the most important thing is to make sure you secure your devices. While configuring the cloud storage account make sure you create a strong password and have all the security and privacy features enabled. Do not take the security of your cloud storage lightly. This includes your configuration of security questions associated with the account for resetting password and the answers to these questions should not be too obvious for anybody to guess via social engineering.

So be careful when it comes to using these smart devices and my personal advice would be not to create any digital content that must not be shared publicly.

For those iPhone users who simply want to stop sending their photos to iCloud account, just switch off the setting as shown in the below image:

icloud_off

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Sanjay Katkar
About Sanjay Katkar
Sanjay Katkar is the Joint Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer of Quick Heal Technologies Limited. He holds a Masters in Computer Science from University...
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7 Comments

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  1. hi sanjay,

    being an android user.

    can you please suggest/guide some preventive steps for android users too. Would be of great help

    regards

    Vikrant

    Reply
    • btw,

      sorry for not dropping a word of appreciation for wonderfully compiled facts on how one invites cloud hacking…

      a nice share ~ would love to share with friends

      regards

      Vikrant

      Reply
  2. Ansumay DattaSeptember 6, 2014 at 10:02 PM

    Although I don’t have smart phone or iphone,still it ia very informative.

    Reply
  3. A great write-up.. I dont have a smartphone but nude photops even I feel would be relished much more if taken, as u rightly said, with a digicam and then projected on your pc, TV screen, bedroom wall rather than on the internet unwittingly and unwillingly..Its what u are paying for being too smart with your smart phone rather than your wits…

    And in todays job scenario there are bound to be job-seekers who are smarter with THEIR wits and your ‘PHONE.. and PC.

    So it is obviously for the narcissists amongst us to be more careful how we luxuriate with our luxuries in today’s hi-tech era…

    Thnks for the security question tip.. It really would be safer to fib / codify our answers and just remember/record them for safety sake..

    Reply
  4. Yes great tips. I don’t overly trust the cloud for important data & don’t know that I ever will.

    My family has our own motto. “Stupid Hurts” This applies to all areas of life including smart phones. I have had to educate my children on why some things should not be posted & after a couple of mistakes the now understand.

    We all need to be smart when using smart phones etc. The tips Sanjay has blogged aren’t rocket science but basic valuable rules I think a lot of people forget to implement in their fast & hectic lives.

    Quick Heal Rocks!

    Reply
  5. when I started using smartphone I took some snaps in my office colleague but when I open may mail box at home on my note book I found those pic there I was able to understand so I explore the option for sharing photo in my smartphone and switched in off and said my all friends about this after that every snap I take remains in my phone storage but since than I prefer to use my digital camera instead of mob cam.

    Reply
  6. Prof. C. B. SinghSeptember 10, 2014 at 7:24 PM

    Good for the young blood. Also caution for the age group of 15 to 40 years.

    Reply