'Addiction' drove Scarlett Johansson's nude photo hacker

Filed Under: Celebrities, Law & order, Nude Celebrities, Privacy

Scarlett Johansson passwordChristopher Chaney, the man accused of hacking into the email accounts of female celebrities, and scooping up their private messages and nude photos, has described how his curiousity became an addiction.

35-year-old Chaney, from Jacksonville, Florida, was arrested by the FBI earlier this week in connection with "Operation Hackerazzi", an investigation into a series of high profile hacking incidents involving the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis and others.

In an exclusive interview with CNN affiliate WAWS/WTEV, Chaney claimed he does not remember who was the first celebrity he targeted.

Victims identified identified in the FBI's indictment include Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, Christina Aguilera, Renee Olstead, and celebrity handbag designer Simone Harouche. Other victims are identified purely by initials: B.P., J.A., L.B., L.S., D.F., and B.G.

Celebrity hacking victims

However, FBI agents are said to have identified more than 50 victims whose accounts were illegally accessed by Chaney.

Chaney's hacking escapades lasted from November 2010 until February this year, using publicly available information to reset passwords and gain access to accounts.

It's alleged that once he had access to victims' Gmail, Apple and Yahoo accounts, that Chaney could make contact with others via his victims' online address book, and search the account for compromising information.

The FBI claims that Chaney would also auto-forward any messages received by his victims to third party accounts under his own control. This meant he could read every email they received, even if passwords were reset.

Chaney told the TV station that he was full of remorse for his actions:

"I deeply apologize. I know what I did was probably one of the worst invasions of privacy someone could experience, and these people don't have privacy to begin with. I was in that slither of privacy that they do have. And I have had six months to think about it and it eats at me."

"When you are doing it you're not thinking about what's going on with who you are doing it to. Pure curiosity is how it started, and I wish it hadn't."

Christopher ChaneyChaney says that he was "pretty stupid" and plans to plead guilty. He says that he knows what he did was wrong.

However, he denies that he had any finanical motive, and claims that he did not sell or release any of the images.

Which begs the question - how did nude photos of the likes of Scarlett Johansson end up freely available on the internet?

Chaney says that others must have passed the images onto gossip websites, and that he was contacted by somebody who wanted to see the celebrities' emails. However, he claims he did not share the information.

It's unclear how this unnamed individual knew that Chaney had access to the personal communications.

Another question occurs to me - didn't the celeb gossip websites which published the photographs do something wrong too? They surely knew that photos of Scarlett Johansson topless and the like were likely to be stolen property, and yet they went ahead and published them regardless.

One wonders if they will suffer any punishment for their part in this sordid story.

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11 Responses to 'Addiction' drove Scarlett Johansson's nude photo hacker

  1. tranoidnoki · 1454 days ago

    Thank you sir for doing your part in society! Mankind is in your debt. DAT. ASS.

  2. Geoff White · 1454 days ago

    Isn't the other question how the iimages made their way off the celebrities' mobile phones?

    The indictment documents claim Chaney hacked into Google and Apple email accounts, and changed the settings to effectively blind carbon copy him into sent emails.

    So the celebs allegedly affected would have had to take the photo on their phones, send it to their email account, then send it on from that email account to someone else. That does seem a bit wierd.

    • Vito · 1454 days ago

      Actually, it doesn't seem weird at all. I have worked with "celebrities", and some of them are pretty weird people. While there are some who carefully guard their privacy, many of them crave public attention and adulation. Then too, some are utterly clueless as to the consequences of their actions. They don't think ANYTHING through. They live by impulse, and they have no criteria or principles by which to determine what is right or wrong.

      I wouldn't generalize those characteristics to all celebrities. I've known some very sharp, very conscientious people in the entertainment industry. But there are some absolute wackos too. Trying to guess the motivations for their actions using rational criteria is an exercise in futility.

    • Jesse · 1454 days ago

      @Geoff White - Most phones have email built in. It may be possible that the celebs in question had already attached the photo's using the email client on their phone.

  3. Lucas Marius · 1454 days ago

    Geoff - they are human too! A lot of people send risque photos of themselves to tease/entice their significant others. It's a way of keeping things spicy. Mobile phones are almost all 'smart' phones now - so taking a picture and posting it is super quick.

    We only find out about celebrities because well, they are celebrities.

  4. guest · 1454 days ago

    I was always told not to do anything I wouldn't want to see posted on the front page of the newspaper. I honestly don't have a lot of sympathy for people who are in the habit of taking nude photos of themselves then broadcasting them in any form. It would seem prudent at this stage of the game to be aware that the internet is not secure, or private. Anyone who is unaware of that fact needs to have their iproducts confiscated for their own protection.

    • guest1 · 1450 days ago

      "I was always told not to do anything I wouldn't want to see posted on the front page of the newspaper"

      my thought exactly. While I understand the previous post that speaks of "spicing up" one's relationship, especially in the case of celebrities, they should have your adage in mind. Think about the serial relationships many of these folks have. Each of those significant (for now) others might have a different set of spicy pics. What's to keep them from capitalizing on them?

      Momma called them our "privates" for a reason.... ;)

  5. zoom · 1452 days ago

    I reckon J.A. was Jessica Alba, B.G. was Brittny Gastineau, B.P. was Billie Piper... don't know about the rest...

    • Or..

      Jennifer Aniston, Betty Grable, Brad Pitt..

      Hmm.. maybe I'm not so good at this game.

      • guest1 · 1450 days ago

        Not sure I'd be too keen on seeing any current Betty Grable nude pics.... eww.

        Oh dem bones, dem dryyy bones......

  6. sly · 1412 days ago

    Please...... who cares. They show it all on the screen for the public to see anyway.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at https://grahamcluley.com, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley