How private are our private accounts?

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Olivia Storey

The private WhatsApp account of WWE wrestler, Paige, has been hacked, which is the second time her accounts have been targeted this year.

Unknown hackers have reportedly accessed and compromised Paige’s WhatsApp account, leaking private conversations and explicit photos online.

This is in fact the second time this year that WWE wrestler Paige has been targeted and successfully hacked, the first time happening back in March in a large leak of personal and explicit photos, which was dubbed ‘Fappening 2.0’.

We have seen this happen repeatedly with hacks that target public figures to steal photos, unreleased music, financial and general personal information.

In the past few years, various attack vectors have met with success:


  • 2014 saw a large hack of celebrity’s iCloud accounts, posting nude photos of the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian, Anna Kendrick, and around 100 others, so hacks like this are not new, however it does still seem to be happening.
  • 2013 had a leak of personal information and credit reports via a compromised credit report company – including social security numbers, mortgages, addresses and credit card details of celebrities like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Michelle Obama and 15 others.
  • 2010 saw Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Ke$ha all have their computers infected with malware which stole credit card details, photos, email and unreleased songs.
  • 2008 saw stolen password reuse acquired through a MySpace spam scheme, affecting Miley Cyrus and the theft of personal photos when she was only 15.

Mark James, ESET It Security Specialist, explains how and why this keeps happening and the best way to avoid a situation like this.

“Time and again we hear stories of somebodies personal or intimate photos being leaked through a hack, data breach or password reuse.

“Not all are hacks of course; some are simply having the right credentials to login and gain access just like the owner. Every time it happens, people have to ask themselves how private our online ‘private’ accounts really are.

“We have to understand nothing posted online is ever secret; even kept safe with the best encryption or two factor authentication there is always a small chance someone is going to find a way to access it.

“There is always a market for high profile information or data regardless of its morality.

“The media may well take a stance and state they won’t publish it or make its source known, but the real value is online and in area’s the media have no control over.

“A world where anything and everything can be purchased, sold, and traded for virtually anything you want; if you truly want it kept private then do not store it online anywhere.

“If you have to store it then use an offline encrypted area that’s not accessible by anyone except you, sorry to say this includes partners, friends or anyone else you may currently trust, everyone you trust is one link less in the chain of security.”

Do you worry about information you store online? Let us know on Twitter @ESETUK.


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