Man pleads guilty in celebrity iCloud hacking case, admits to phishing scheme

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2016
A Pennsylvania man on Tuesday was charged in the hacking of iCloud and Google cloud storage accounts belonging to more than 100 individuals -- notably dozens of celebrities -- and stealing personal, sometimes compromising pictures and video.




The U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California said Ryan Collins, 36, conducted a wide-ranging phishing scheme between Nov. 2012 and Sept. 2014 to illegally procure usernames and passwords to at least 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts, reports NBC News. Photos and video gleaned from the operation were subsequently leaked online.

"By illegally accessing intimate details of his victims' personal lives, Mr. Collins violated their privacy and left many to contend with lasting emotional distress, embarrassment and feelings of insecurity," said David Bowdich, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office. "We continue to see both celebrities and victims from all walks of life suffer the consequences of this crime and strongly encourage users of Internet-connected devices to strengthen passwords and to be skeptical when replying to emails asking for personal information."

Court filings show Collins sent out emails resembling legitimate correspondence from Apple and Google, duping victims into divulging account information that was later used to steal personal photos and in some cases full iCloud backups. The story gained public notoriety after a cache of nude photos stolen from celebrities like actress Jennifer Lawrence hit the Web in September 2014.

Reports at the time suggested iCloud itself had been hacked, but Apple denied those claims. It appears the company was correct in its assessment.

Collins pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 18 months, the report said. Charged in California, his case will be transferred to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Collins is the first to be charged for the 2014 hack, but more could follow as the investigation turns to the nefarious agents behind the photo leak.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    That silver iCloud logo looks like it's 20 years old.
    cornchip
  • Reply 2 of 32
    One count?!? 
    Was he involved in the hundreds or not?
  • Reply 3 of 32
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member
    I'm a huge celebrity, and I just got my own iCloud account.

    I was born in 1987, in Los Angeles, and my birthday is 5/22. My dog's name is Harry.

    Since I'm such a genius, I have chosen a great password for my iCloud account "Harry1987", that nobody will ever be able to guess, unless they have an internet connection, where plenty of private and personal details about myself are available all over the place.

    And if any hacker out there were to guess my extremely complex and secure password, then I will obviously blame it all on Apple.
    bdkennedy1002jfc1138latifbpcornchipjbdragonstevehstompypscooter63loopychewJanNL
  • Reply 4 of 32
    PHISHING is so easy these days.
    edited March 2016 jbdragon
  • Reply 5 of 32
    @ apple ][,
    if this encryption case goes the way of the gov., I am sure you will happily blame it on Obama instead. ;-)
  • Reply 6 of 32
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member
    jeff_cook said:
    @ apple ][,
    if this encryption case goes the way of the gov., I am sure you will happily blame it on Obama instead. ;-)
    Do you mean the iPhone terrorist encryption case?

    That is of course Obama's doing 100%. It is Obama and his thugs in the DOJ that are coming after Apple.
    latifbpcornchipjbdragonstevehstompy
  • Reply 7 of 32
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,085member
    apple ][ said:
    jeff_cook said:
    @ apple ][,
    if this encryption case goes the way of the gov., I am sure you will happily blame it on Obama instead. ;-)
    Do you mean the iPhone terrorist encryption case?

    That is of course Obama's doing 100%. It is Obama and his thugs in the DOJ that are coming after Apple.
    And your BFF Donald Trump is 1000% more on the FBI's side than Obama is, who has said nuanced things about the topic and has stated that it is complex. Trump on the other hand called for the boycott of Apple about the issue, and demands that Apple "gives them the code", whatever the fuck that means. Yet, you want him as President. 

    But of course, that doesn't make Trump a thug, right? I sometimes wonder how people like you get up in the morning, so twisted with hypocrisy and contradictions. 
    ronnnolamacguydsdcornchiplondorai46crowleylostkiwipalomine
  • Reply 8 of 32
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member
    slurpy said:
    apple ][ said:
    Do you mean the iPhone terrorist encryption case?

    That is of course Obama's doing 100%. It is Obama and his thugs in the DOJ that are coming after Apple.
    And your BFF Donald Trump is 1000% more on the FBI's side than Obama is, who has said nuanced things about the topic and has stated that it is complex. Trump on the other hand called for the boycott of Apple about the issue, and demands that Apple "gives them the code", whatever the fuck that means. Yet, you want him as President. 

    But of course, that doesn't make Trump a thug, right? I sometimes wonder how people like you get up in the morning, so twisted with hypocrisy and contradictions. 
    As I have stated numerous times before, the person in my avatar is 100% wrong about the iPhone encryption case. Every single candidate running is wrong. Nobody is on Apple's side.


    jbdragonlostkiwi
  • Reply 9 of 32
    apple ][ said:

    I'm a huge celebrity, and I just got my own iCloud account.

    I was born in 1987, in Los Angeles, and my birthday is 5/22. My dog's name is Harry.

    Since I'm such a genius, I have chosen a great password for my iCloud account "Harry1987", that nobody will ever be able to guess, unless they have an internet connection, where plenty of private and personal details about myself are available all over the place.

    And if any hacker out there were to guess my extremely complex and secure password, then I will obviously blame it all on Apple.
    That's the thing... the hacker rarely has to guess your extremely complex password.

    By using various phishing attempts... YOU give them your password!

    And that's what is so scary about this stuff.  The users themselves are a big flaw. I know plenty of people who wouldn't question an email from Google if it asked them to type in their password.  Or an email from Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, etc.  People are gullible.

    Me?  Not so much.  I'm very careful... plus I use two-factor authentication on all my major accounts.

    But the average person can be easily tricked into giving away their password with no problem. And that's the biggest hole in security.
    edited March 2016 jfc1138jbdragonsteveh
  • Reply 10 of 32
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member

    And that's what is so scary about this stuff.  The users themselves are a big flaw. I know plenty of people who wouldn't question an email from Google if it asked them to type in their password.  Or an email from Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, etc.  People are gullible.
    I agree. That was the point that I was attempting to get across. The weak link is the users themselves, in many cases.
    michael scripjony0cornchipjbdragon
  • Reply 11 of 32
    slurpy said:
    apple ][ said:
    Do you mean the iPhone terrorist encryption case?

    That is of course Obama's doing 100%. It is Obama and his thugs in the DOJ that are coming after Apple.
    And your BFF Donald Trump is 1000% more on the FBI's side than Obama is, who has said nuanced things about the topic and has stated that it is complex. Trump on the other hand called for the boycott of Apple about the issue, and demands that Apple "gives them the code", whatever the fuck that means. Yet, you want him as President. 

    But of course, that doesn't make Trump a thug, right? I sometimes wonder how people like you get up in the morning, so twisted with hypocrisy and contradictions. 
    Why can't somebody just say something bad about Obama, without a Trump obsessed person trying to make it all about Trump?

    apple ][jbdragon
  • Reply 12 of 32
    One count?!? 
    Was he involved in the hundreds or not?
    It all depends what the prosecution can prove. Maybe, he didn't do anything with the other usernames and passwords he supposedly received. Looks like he's only being charged with the celebrity hack.
  • Reply 13 of 32
    apple ][ said:

    And that's what is so scary about this stuff.  The users themselves are a big flaw. I know plenty of people who wouldn't question an email from Google if it asked them to type in their password.  Or an email from Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, etc.  People are gullible.

     I agree. That was the point that I was attempting to get across. The weak link is the users themselves, in many cases.
    Exactly.  And I don't know any way to fix that.

    If there is a problem with your bank... they'll call you and say "hang up... and call the number printed on your credit card" to prove that it is really the bank calling. That seems to work.

    But, sadly, people will just happily type in their internet passwords into a webpage without batting an eye.  :(
    edited March 2016 jbdragon
  • Reply 14 of 32
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    apple ][ said:

    I'm a huge celebrity, and I just got my own iCloud account.

    I was born in 1987, in Los Angeles, and my birthday is 5/22. My dog's name is Harry.

    Since I'm such a genius, I have chosen a great password for my iCloud account "Harry1987", that nobody will ever be able to guess, unless they have an internet connection, where plenty of private and personal details about myself are available all over the place.

    And if any hacker out there were to guess my extremely complex and secure password, then I will obviously blame it all on Apple.
    That's the thing... the hacker rarely has to guess your extremely complex password.

    By using various phishing attempts... YOU give them your password!

    And that's what is so scary about this stuff.  The users themselves are a big flaw. I know plenty of people who wouldn't question an email from Google if it asked them to type in their password.  Or an email from Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, etc.  People are gullible.

    Me?  Not so much.  I'm very careful... plus I use two-factor authentication on all my major accounts.

    But the average person can be easily tricked into giving away their password with no problem. And that's the biggest hole in security.
    Indeed: the issue isn't the mathematics of encryption, it's the biology of Darwinism. 
    michael scrip
  • Reply 15 of 32
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    apple ][ said:
    slurpy said:
    And your BFF Donald Trump is 1000% more on the FBI's side than Obama is, who has said nuanced things about the topic and has stated that it is complex. Trump on the other hand called for the boycott of Apple about the issue, and demands that Apple "gives them the code", whatever the fuck that means. Yet, you want him as President. 

    But of course, that doesn't make Trump a thug, right? I sometimes wonder how people like you get up in the morning, so twisted with hypocrisy and contradictions. 
    As I have stated numerous times before, the person in my avatar is 100% wrong about the iPhone encryption case. Every single candidate running is wrong. Nobody is on Apple's side.
    incorrect. the only candidate against domestic spying and the patriot act is Bernie sanders. the rest are mutton headed fools, like your...avatar. 
    ai46latifbp
  • Reply 16 of 32
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member

    redefiler said:
    slurpy said:
    And your BFF Donald Trump is 1000% more on the FBI's side than Obama is, who has said nuanced things about the topic and has stated that it is complex. Trump on the other hand called for the boycott of Apple about the issue, and demands that Apple "gives them the code", whatever the fuck that means. Yet, you want him as President. 

    But of course, that doesn't make Trump a thug, right? I sometimes wonder how people like you get up in the morning, so twisted with hypocrisy and contradictions. 
    Why can't somebody just say something bad about Obama, without a Trump obsessed person trying to make it all about Trump?

    because the hypocrisy with Apple ][ is mind numbing. 
    ai46palomine
  • Reply 17 of 32
    latifbplatifbp Posts: 544member
    apple ][ said:
    jeff_cook said:
    @ apple ][,
    if this encryption case goes the way of the gov., I am sure you will happily blame it on Obama instead. ;-)
    Do you mean the iPhone terrorist encryption case?

    That is of course Obama's doing 100%. It is Obama and his thugs in the DOJ that are coming after Apple.
    As much as I don't like Drumpf and I hold Democratic values, this guy is right. This is all Obama. He is in charge of the DOJ and FBI.
    edited March 2016 jbdragonpalomine
  • Reply 18 of 32
    irelandireland Posts: 17,521member
    So when's the trial for the NSA heads who broke privacy laws and lied to congress on the record? And the Wall St. bankers who broke the law and caused the worst global economic crisis in decades?

    Also, this shows the state of US media and journalism when all people talked about was iCloud hacking, when 1. no hack took place and 2. more gmail accounts were message with and I never even heard about the gmail part of the story until now.
    edited March 2016 ration alpalomine
  • Reply 19 of 32
    jony0jony0 Posts: 269member
    jfc1138 said:
    That's the thing... the hacker rarely has to guess your extremely complex password.

    By using various phishing attempts... YOU give them your password!

    And that's what is so scary about this stuff.  The users themselves are a big flaw. I know plenty of people who wouldn't question an email from Google if it asked them to type in their password.  Or an email from Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, etc.  People are gullible.

    Me?  Not so much.  I'm very careful... plus I use two-factor authentication on all my major accounts.

    But the average person can be easily tricked into giving away their password with no problem. And that's the biggest hole in security.
    Indeed: the issue isn't the mathematics of encryption, it's the biology of Darwinism. 
    Exactly. The issue is indeed not technical, it is a human weakness issue. 
    This is also what the FBI vs Encryption battle is all about. I would want law enforcement to have the best tools available within the law and within human tampering. I tried to come up with a simple explanation to convey this to my mother and kids and so, using the simplest of words that even a politician could understand, here is the issue :
    It is a simple technical task to create a key given to responsible good people doing a good thing for the benefit of all, we all want that, but there is no technology in the near or distant future that can or could detect if the legitimate key is actually being used by a bad person instead, or even by a good person doing a bad thing, and that’s what nobody wants.
    Access to those photos was granted with a key by a human wrongdoer who appropriated the key through human failings. This is also why we can't create a master key to give to humans and expect that they will also fail to keep it in their pants.
    stompy
  • Reply 20 of 32
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    latifbp said:
    apple ][ said:
    Do you mean the iPhone terrorist encryption case?

    That is of course Obama's doing 100%. It is Obama and his thugs in the DOJ that are coming after Apple.
    As much as I don't like Drumpf and I hold Democratic values, this guy is right. This is all Obama. He is in charge of the DOJ and FBI.
    He;s in charge of the DOJ but not the FBi, though they seemingly have the same playbook, which makes them seem to all be all one happy family ;-).
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