How Did Scarlett Johansson Get Hacked?


Famous people like their security and privacy, right? They have things like bodyguards and assistants and publicists and live in gated communities. So when cases like that of Christopher Chaney — the man who allegedly hacked into the accounts of more than 50 people, including Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis and Christina Aguilera — we are totally baffled. That’s why we called up CNET correspondent Declan McCullagh, who shed some light on how famous people’s nekkid pics wind up all over the Web.

Part of the fault, it seems, lies in the celebs themselves, who might be using obvious passwords or easily discovered facts for their password reset questions, Declan told us.

“Let me give you an example: How do I find your mother’s maiden name, or how do you find my mother’s maiden name? Not easily,” he said. “But for Scarlett Johansson, I can just look at Wikipedia. Do I know your pet’s name? No, and you probably can’t find it online. But Mila Kunis might have her pet’s name mentioned in a magazine profile. So the more famous you get, the more information is out there. And a lot of websites a lot of social networking sites and email providers use things like your mother’s maiden name or your pet’s name or where you went to high school as questions that will let you get access to your account if you forget your password. This is a bit of a security risk.”

Declan says it’s up to you, whether you’re famous or not, to come up with random passwords that no one else can guess but that will stick in your memory. “It might even be just be two dictionary words. Put random words together like truck and basket, you can visualize what it is. It’s going to be very difficult for someone to guess that because there are so many thousands of combinations.”

Also, this might sound obvious, but it is probably a good idea to keep those nude photos under lock and key. If you take nude photos of yourself or allow nude photos of yourself to be taken … either you embrace this (like Marilyn Monroe did) — this is part of you, part of your mystique,” Declan said, “or you keep them encrypted on a hard drive that you, and not your boyfriend, hold the key to. But this in-between thing, ‘Oh, I’ll just keep them on my iPhone because nobody could ever hack into that.’ Yeah, OK.”

Does a story like this mean our favorite stars are going to retreat from the Web, where we’ve gotten so used to their oversharing?

“It’s too early to say,” he responded. “In this case, the defendant is accused of hacking into more than 50 people’s websites. We’ve heard a few names, probably not enough to make people scared. If we hear a few dozen more names that we recognize, yeah, this could be a pretty impressive case.”

[Photo: Getty Images]

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