The man whose phishing scam resulted in “The Fappening” is getting 18 months in federal prison. Ryan Collins, 36, of Lancaster, PA, broke into 100+ iCloud and Gmail accounts. Many of these accounts belonged to female celebrities. This hack resulted in the release of nude photos and videos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and many others.
According to the US Attorney’s Office in Pennsylvania, the US District Court sentenced Collins on October, 26, 2016, after he plead guilty in May. As part of this plea agreement, he avoided up to five years in prison. Investigators could not link Collins directly to the leak of photos, only to the hack itself.
Collins, pictured above, used a classic phishing scam to send seemingly authentic emails to his victims, posing as Google and Apple. He acquired celebrities’ passwords over the course of two years, and private nudes eventually ended up on the infamous 4Chan. Some celebrities acknowledged that these photos were genuine, while others promptly denied their authenticity.
This hack, also called “Celebgate”, resulted in considerable controversy about cyber security, privacy, and censorship. Google was slammed with a $100 million lawsuit for failing to respond appropriately. Reddit, center of much of the activity of The Fappening, came under fire for not pulling the photos soon enough. Both guys and girls worldwide were frantically resetting their iCloud and Gmail passwords, after googling “Ariana Grande nude”.
Ultimately, whether you are a gorgeous celebrity or not, always protect your passwords. Do not fall for phishing scams, which are obviously still an effective way for hackers to get your private information. Always check the authenticity of any password-related emails. Do not click on every link that you get. You would think that this was all basic stuff, and that the only thing we would have to worry about is someone launching a massive attack on a tech company’s servers. Apparently, even the super popular and wealthy still fall for a classic phish, not just your elderly aunt.