One Lesson to Learn from #JenniferLawrence and the Nude Selfies

By Rob  |  3 Sep 2014, 11:00am  |  Category: Social Media

Twitter is awash with the news that nude selfies of famous female celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, have been hacked from their private Apple iCloud accounts.

One can only condemn the hacker or hackers for this gross invasion of privacy. And one does hope the FBI catch the perpetrators -- even if one wonders whether a similar non celebrity case would catch their attention.

But either way what can those of us who use digital tools and social media learn from this incident? One thing -- your data is not 100% secure online.

The response to the hack has been mixed. Some have condemned the hack. Others, like comedian Ricky Gervais, questioned why the nude selfies existed in the first place. And many have parodied the hack with the #IfMyPhoneGotHacked hashtag.

This has also led to some prominent figures and feminists to suggest the hack and response were sexist...

There is no doubt these women were blameless victims of a crime against their property.

However we should not let that fact cloud reality. And the reality is data of any type stored online is not 100% secure. Even with the best minds and will in the world -- and a tonne of money -- data will never be entirely secure online.

Most people who work in development and software know that online security is about the value of the data stored vs our inability to make it 100% secure. The aim therefore is to make the process of hacking too time consuming and difficult in relation to the value of the data.

In terms of iCloud and the average user's photos the system is probably more than secure. That is to say hacking iCloud for an average person's photos would just be a waste of time. However celebrity data is different and has far greater value, which explains the willingness to carry out the hack. And to be fair to the developers of iCloud they probably hadn't thought about a celebrity usage scenario.

So what does this mean for us, the average internet user? Well it is very simple, always assess the value of the data you put online and where you put it -- whether that be photos, text, information, financial data, etc...

Data placed on a social network like Twitter or Facebook is not going to be very secure. Data stored on services like Dropbox or just stored on a PC connected to the internet will be more secure. But ultimately if you have data that is very sensitive and or personal, keep it offline entirely.

A simple rule of thumb might be to suggest that if you don't want the NSA or GCHQ to see it -- keep it offline...

Hope this helps and please let us know your thoughts @StatusPeople.

Speak soon.

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