Scarlett had her Yahoo eyeballed - how to avoid it happening to you

Filed Under: Celebrities, Data loss, Featured, Law & order, Nude Celebrities, Privacy

Vanity Fair cover of Scarlett JohanssonScarlett Johansson has been talking to Vanity Fair magazine about her recent nude photo scandal, that saw private photographs of the starlet published on the internet after her Yahoo email account was allegedly hacked.

Trying to make the best of a bad situation, Johansson tells the magazine's December issue that the photographs were intended for her ex-husband Ryan Reynolds and said "I know my best angles. They were sent to my husband. There's nothing wrong with that. It's not like I was shooting a porno. Although there’s nothing wrong with that either."

It is claimed that Johansson, and a bevy of other female celebrities, had their email accounts broken into by Christopher Chaney from Jacksonville, Florida.

Chaney is alleged to have broken into Apple, Gmail and Yahoo accounts belonging to female stars, and automatically forwarded any email they received to an account under his own control.

35-year-old Chaney faces 26 charges, including accessing computer systems without authorisation, wire tapping and identity theft. If convicted, he could face up to 121 years in prison.

Chaney is said by the authorities to have offered the stolen salacious material to celebrity blogs, but no evidence has been found that he made money from the scheme.

Yesterday, Chaney pleaded "not guilty" to the charges, meaning that at trial is scheduled to begin in late December.

Hollywood sign

In the past, we've described how users of the Gmail email system can determine if someone has interfered with your account and is automatically receiving any messages that you are sent.

But what if you are a Yahoo user like Scarlett Johansson?

Well, aside from checking your Yahoo account's mail forwarding settings to see if someone is sneakily being sent copies of your messages, there's something even simpler you can do to avoid having your Yahoo mail forwarded.

Don't pay for it!

Yahoo mail features

Regular free Yahoo mail accounts, simply don't allow your email to be forwarded. The ultimate protection is to not have the facility at all!

Sure, it's a pain in the neck if you do want to forward your email, but is a God send if you're worried about your account being hacked and a snooper being able to see every message you receive.

That's $19.99 a year which - from the security point of view - you might be very happy not to spend. :)

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13 Responses to Scarlett had her Yahoo eyeballed - how to avoid it happening to you

  1. Rikki · 1402 days ago

    Interesting. I know when I forward email from Hotmail my inbox shows a big warning at the top each time Im logged in saying "Email from this account is being forwarded" so its a good tell tale sign :)


  2. Jason · 1402 days ago

    If you don't want nude photos out there, don't take nude photos of yourself. It's simple.

  3. Neilly · 1402 days ago

    A disappointing conclusion, bit like telling us to stop using the internet. Is the reason the account was hacked due to poor security with Yahoo mail, or because the celeb used a crackable password?

    • It's alleged that Chaney used publicly available information to reset passwords and gain access to accounts.

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

      More details in our previous articles, such as this one:

  4. michelle · 1402 days ago

    You can't use outlook either with a free account.... or have it forward to your phone.... so NO, not an option for me.

    • IDK but my FREE Yahoo Mail account DID allow POP3 fetching. I could fetch the email from my Gmail account. I just have to turn on POP3.

      I think Yahoo address signed up from certain countries have POP3 enabled

  5. Jack · 1402 days ago

    But, um ... if someone gains access to the account, couldn't they pay for the upgrade?

  6. Friendlypest · 1402 days ago

    ain't that the truth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Tony · 1402 days ago

    Yeah but unless you're famous or they know for certain they can make money from you, why would they waste $20?

  8. jim · 1401 days ago

    How about Hotmail accounts? Can it be done also? How to stop it?

  9. Bill K · 1401 days ago

    Another suggestion might be to be wary of addresses that are prone to typos. One of relatives realized that they were missing lots of e-mails, and I traced the problem to the fact that an easy typo of their address was a valid Yahoo account (that was obviously setup with malicious intent based on the similarity to the name). I reported this to Yahoo and the other account was promptly disabled. Kudos to Yahoo!

  10. Real World · 1400 days ago

    "Regular free Yahoo mail accounts, simply don't allow your email to be forwarded. The ultimate protection is to not have the facility at all!"

    Umm, in what parallel universe does this happen? I forward yahoo mail all the time. I have several email accounts including Yahoo, gmail, Hotmail, etc and have never had any problem forwarding mail that originated with Yahoo or forwarded to Yahoo from a different email provider. You just made that up didn't you? And no, I don't pay for email.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at, 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