Now that the frenzy surrounding the leaked nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and dozens of other celebrities has died down a little, people are starting to get concerned about whether their photos could be hacked. Even though Apple hasn’t confirmed a hack, some tech experts believe that the mass hack could be attributed to vulnerabilities in iCloud. If this is the case, there are some measures you can take to make sure no one obtains private photos.
In case you have been living under a rock for the past couple of days, nude photos of The Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities such as Kate Upton were leaked on 4Chan on Sunday. While some celebrities say their photos are fake, representatives for both Lawrence and Upton have confirmed that the nude selfies are real.
The method the hackers used to steal the photos hasn’t been confirmed yet, but some experts believe that the hackers obtained the photos from iCloud. As disturbing as this is, hacked actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead posted that she had deleted her photos “long ago,” which makes the situation even more concerning.
Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this. Feeling for everyone who got hacked.
— Mary E. Winstead (@M_E_Winstead) August 31, 2014
Photos of actress Kirsten Dunst were also leaked. Dunst made a short post regarding the issue on Twitter and blames iCloud for not protecting her photos:
Thank you iCloud
— Kirsten Dunst (@kirstendunst) September 1, 2014
A spokesperson for the company says that they are “investigating” the situation. “We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report,” said spokesperson Nat Kerris.
Apple 'actively investigating' iCloud link to celebrity photo leak http://t.co/neRPPiwA5g
— CNET (@CNET) September 1, 2014
The fact that deleted photos were possibly stolen from iCloud has some people freaking out. After all, if you took some risque photos after a night of having too much to drink and later deleted them, then they should be wiped off the face of the earth, right? As it turns out, when you back up your phone to iCloud, the photos on your phone are also saved in the backup. There are some things you can do to make sure no one steals sensitive photos from your iCloud account, whether they are saved to your photo stream or saved in a backup. It isn’t likely that you’ll be targeted if you aren’t someone famous, but peace of mind is always a good thing.
Delete Photos from iCloud
If you’re worried about someone obtaining sensitive photos if your iCloud account is hacked, the first thing you should do is remove such photos from your account. You can do this by removing photos from My Photo Stream on your Apple device or by accessing My Photo Stream on your computer. Simply select the photos you want to remove and either click delete or send them to your trash bin.
Delete iCloud Backup
Photos can also be saved in iCloud backups. So even if you delete photos saved to iCloud, it’s possible that another copy of the photo is saved in the backup file. You can delete the backup file to solve this problem. After moving or deleting other private photos from your camera roll or photo stream, delete the backup files saved to iCloud. Apple offers instructions for how to do this:
Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup, then tap Manage Storage.
Tap the name of your iOS device.
Tap Delete Backup. You’ll be asked to confirm this change. Deleting the backup also turns off backup of your iOS device. Choose Turn Off & Delete if you want to turn off Backup and remove all backups for this iOS device from iCloud.