Nude celeb pics removed as fresh wave leaks online

Aubrey Plaza, one of the celebrities allegedly targeted in a hacking case. Photo/AP
Aubrey Plaza, one of the celebrities allegedly targeted in a hacking case. Photo/AP

A new wave of "nude" celebrity photos have been leaked online amid claims the graphic images may have been passed around an online club for months.

The previously unseen pictures are alleged to feature Parks and Recreation actress Aubrey Plaza, Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown Findlay and American Idol Season 12 contestant Tenna Torres.

A video, reportedly of American actress Jennifer Lawrence, has also been leaked online. Brown Findlay also allegedly features in a video.

It follows the publication of naked photos of Lawrence and "100 other celebrities", including supermodel Kate Upton and actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, on Sunday night.

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Many of the images released in the first wave on Monday are being removed from various sites.

Copyright complaints apparently prompted the removal of the image from sharing site Imgur.com and rendered links on the social networking site Reddit inoperable in what experts call an online version of "whack-a-mole" that will never fully scrub the intimate photos of Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence and other stars from the internet.

A Reddit thread that had been compiling links to images of nude photos of Lawrence and other celebrities had been disabled "due to a copyright claim".

Users reported difficulty finding working links to the images on other sites, although they remained active on sites that specialise in online piracy.

Representatives of Twitter, Reddit and Imgur did not respond to messages.

The FBI said it was addressing allegations that the hacker broke into stars' online accounts, before stealing their personal images and publishing them on 4chan, the anonymous image-sharing forum.

However, it remains powerless to stop the continued spread of photos.

Apple admits a "targeted attack" on some user accounts led to the release of the nude celebrity photos but that it found no breach of its cloud storage system.

"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," Apple said.

"None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple's systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved."

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Last night, Reddit users took to a special subsection of the social networking site devoted to the leaks to discuss the supposed release of a new wave of naked images.

The internet is awash with speculation about the source of the leak. According to one anonymous 4chan poster, the release of nude photographs of celebrities was the product of an "underground celeb n00d-trading ring".

The poster claimed the ring had been in operation for months and posters would trade or sell the photos they retrieved between each other.

Another poster, who claims to have been involved, wrote on AnonIB that the hacking had been "several months" in the making and the nude photos were the result of "several months of long and hard work by all involved".

The new wave of leaked photos also includes a series of X-rated videos of 24-year-old Findlay, who played Lady Sybil Crawley in the drama Downton Abbey.

A spokesman for the actress has confirmed that the videos are of her but said Findlay is "not making any comment because it's a criminal investigation".

Kirsten Dunst became the first celebrity to publicly criticise Apple when she posted a sarcastic message on Twitter, the day after naked photos of her were published online.


It is unknown how large the cache of "nude" celebrity photos is, but it reportedly also includes images of Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Cara Delevingne, Ariana Grande and Victoria Justice.

An online list posted by the hacker on Sunday evening named a staggering 101 celebrities.

Lawrence, a three-time Oscar nominee who won for her role in Silver Linings Playbook, contacted authorities after the images began appearing Sunday.

"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."

Meanwhile, other celebrities, including singer Ariana Grande and Nickelodeon star Victoria Justice, quickly denounced the images as fake.

Many other celebrities are yet to see any "nude" photos appear online.

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Mark Rasch, a former federal prosecutor who specialised in computer crimes, said investigators will focus on not only who's responsible for the theft of the photos, but the tools they used and even the idiosyncrasies of how they program.

"There is a digital trail," Rasch said. "What you hope for (is) the people aren't very good at what they do, that they screw up, that they (upset) other hackers. Or that they leave a trail."

While investigations may span months - and different continents - Rasch said sometimes authorities will catch an early break or get a tip that leads them to suspects. The investigations are difficult, he said, but "It's equally difficult to get away with it scot free".

In the past decade, federal prosecutors have successfully prosecuted a Massachusetts teenager who hacked Hilton's phone account and posted her contact list online, as well as a Florida man who stole nude photos of Johansson, Kunis and singer Christina Aguilera.

The teenager was sentenced to several months in jail, while a federal judge in 2012 ordered Christopher Chaney imprisoned for 10 years for the hack that targeted Johansson.

The people responsible for stealing the Lawrence photos may also be tracked by private investigators who can operate faster than government agents, said Rasch, whose company Rasch Technology and Cyberlaw has conducted similar investigations but is not working on the current data breach.

Lawrence and other stars who were hacked are now confronting on a very personal level a problem that has dogged the entertainment industry for years - online piracy.

"Even if you can get it taken down, it's likely to pop up somewhere else," said F Jay Dougherty, a law professor at Loyola Law School Los Angeles who specialises in entertainment and intellectual property issues.

Mickey Osterreicher, a media lawyer and general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, said that while a successful copyright complaint could scrub the images from a site forever, Lawrence and other celebrities will have to remain vigilant and continue filing takedown notices.

"You have to go to each place," he said. "It's kind of like playing whack-a-mole."

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- Daily Mail, AP

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