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5 Ways To Prevent Personal Photos Being Stolen

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Singer Adele experienced an invasion of privacy with personal photos being leaked after the hack of an email account. Here’s how to stop it happening to you

A hacker recently gained access to pop singer Adele’s personal photos, including a pregnancy scan of her son, and leaked them online.

The photos were allegedly obtained when Adele’s boyfriend’s email account was hacked and then published on an Adele fan site – apparently leaving her distraught at a blatant invasion of privacy.

The leak is the latest in a number of hacks involving celebreties, but what can you learn from these high profile incidents?

Here are some top tips on how you and Adele can keep the contents of your emails privacy.


The guessing game

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What else can be learned from this unsavoury hacking incident? This is what specialists in the tech security industry had to say:

Richard Kirk, SVP at AlienVault

“It’s unfortunate that Adele’s private life has been targeted and this is a reminder to anyone who uses email to ensure that they adopt a secure password policy. It is not clear exactly what happened and it is also unlikely that a hacker was expecting to make much money out of revealing Adele’s private photos, however it is distressing for anyone who protects and values their private life.

“And this does not just mean celebrities. It is worth remembering that our email accounts often contain an elaborate and detailed history of our lives, some of which may have real value to hackers. For example, it is very common for people to send each other financial information such as bank accounts, PayPal details, and even worse, account ids and passwords.

Brian Spector, CEO of MIRACL

“Although this is a horrible invasion of Adele’s privacy, maybe it will at least raise awareness to the general public about the vulnerability of all our digital data. All we know so far is that the intruder gained access through her partner’s email, so the likely culprits here are either a password hack or a phishing scam.

“All users, celebrities or not, need to be aware of the value of their personal data on the web, and take steps to protect it. Choosing complex passwords and avoiding using the same password for multiple sites is helpful, but it’s hardly user-friendly. The underlying issue is that the username and password system is old technology that simply cannot secure the deep information and private services that we all store and access online today. Ultimately online services need to protect their users more effectively by replacing the password with a more secure and usable solution.”

Tim Erlin, director, security and IT risk strategist at Tripwire

“This isn’t the first time we’ve seen celebrity photos as the target of a cyber attack, and it likely won’t be the last.
With the way that devices and services are interconnected today, it can be difficult to understand which data is shared with others or with third parties. Anytime data, including photos, leaves your device, it’s put at greater risk.

“When you share data with others, whether via an app or email, you’re implicitly putting trust in their security. Even if you’ve chosen a strong password and kept it secret, that other person may not have been so diligent.”

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