hackedAlluring or sexy pictures are an essential part of the digital age.    Some among you may pooh-pooh such pictures, but they are going to be with us for as long as nice clothes, make-up, tanning and jewelry are part of our culture.   Nude or suggestive photos add spice and excitement to a courtship or relationship;  efforts by fuddy-duddies to discourage the taking of such photos or videos will succumb to the “just say no” failed-policies of the past.  Research suggests that as many as half of all Internet users have taken nude or revealing photos with their Net-connected devices.   Here at SDCAN, we say,  “just be careful”.   Being careful involves a few handy steps that Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna, Kate Upton,  Kirsten Dunst  and a host of other high-profile celebrities might have chosen to use.  We sure wish Justin had used some protection!  But careful is not a guarantee to protection, as mega-breaches of cloud-based servers are inevitable.  But for now, here are some handy steps to take to prevent your private photos from becoming public:

1.   Be careful with your passwords

The simplest and surest way to keep sensitive information online is to protect it with a strong, unique password and to change it regularly.  This means using passwords that are over 10 digits and include upper and lowercase letters, numbers, punctuation and avoid personal information.   Unfortunately, many users reuse their passwords across a number of online social networking sites and forums. This increases the risk of their account becoming breached since their password is only as secure as the weakest online application. With the number of security breaches occurring across the internet that have leaked the usernames and passwords of hundreds of millions of users worldwide, it is likely that the hackers are simply logging in to the victim accounts using previously compromised passwords.

2.  Be careful with automatic cloud storage

Most all smartphone or tablets will automatically send all your images to the cloud.  It’s convenient to have an automatic back-up, but the reality of sending private content into the cloud should be be a conscious and careful choice. When storing private data on to cloud systems, users should assume that at some stage the cloud provider will become compromised in one way or another.  If you decide you can live without the cloud, it’s easy to stop automatic backups of your videos/pictures.

3.  Be careful with your photo device

Pretty much the best way to keep control over your racy photos is to use a digital camera that is not part of your phone or tablet and then back up the pictures on a secure hard drive that won’t fall into someone else’s hands.

4.  Be careful with authentification

Almost always use two-factor authentication” (2FA).   It is an extra layer of security that will send a code to the owner’s phone before it allows you to log in.  It basically means that no one will be able to access your cloud-based storage without your phone. Amazingly, comparatively few people use 2FA, however, either because they don’t know about it or find it cumbersome. Two-factor authentication protects against such hacks because it requires anyone setting up a copy of an existing account on a new device to enter a code that is sent to the primary device – usually a phone. Without that, access is blocked. Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo all offer two-factor authentication on accounts.

5.  Be careful viewing others’ private pictures

Leaked compromising or private pictures on the Internet have become commonplace.  That’s because people like to view them.  Hacking and stealing such pictures is illegal. Posting them on the Internet is also illegal.  Viewing such pictures may not be illegal, but it is downright WRONG…..and an outrageous violation of privacy.  As tempting as it might be to check out such pictures, you need to remember that by viewing them, you are just encouraging such hackers.  A major step to protecting our privacy is to take these crimes seriously and hold their executors accountable. The problem isn’t the picture. The real problems are the perpetrators…….and the individuals who participate in the crime by looking at the pictures.

6.  Be careful with your future

Every time you take a sexy picture, you need to keep two things in mind.  First, they will live on the Internet well past when you become worm food.  So your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will probably see them………….hopefully, we’ll be evolved enough that we won’t give a whit.  Second, any future employers, landlords or anyone else judging us will also likely see them.  The bottom line:  if you plan on living a high-profile life, you may want to keep a low-profile Internet life.

Currently,  authorities are investigating the September 1st “hack” of the celebrities’ cloud accounts.    No information is available yet about the identity of the hackers or how they were able to access all of the accounts alleged to have had personal photos stolen.   We do know that a handful of hackers on the “pirate” hackers’ website 4Chan have previously bragged about exploiting a previously unknown flaw in Apple’s iCloud, the feature that syncs photos, contacts and music among a user’s Apple devices.  But Apple has denied a hack into their storage.   Hackers could also have used “phishing” strategies, which trick people into giving up their passwords through fraud.    Until more is known, we strongly recommend the protections outlined above.