Inside The Underground iCloud Hacking Ring That Leaked Those Naked Celebrity Photos

kate upton model

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Kate Upton was one of the targets of the iCloud hack

The ability to gain access to Apple's iCloud accounts has been an open secret amongst users of porn message boards for years, with enterprising users charging others to "rip" accounts and share nude photos.

As MailOnline reports, AnonIB was the anonymous porn-sharing forum where alleged leaker "OriginalGuy" first hinted at a collection of stolen celebrity photographs, and the site maintains a thriving marketplace where hackers openly sell their services.

Here's an ad on the site from a user looking to trade leaked celebrity photos:

anonIB celeb photo screenshot


This user advertises in both English and French to reach the most customers:

anonIB iCloud hack advert


Experienced hackers charge higher prices:

anonIB iCloud screenshot


Reliable iCloud hackers gain a reputation in the community, and clients will often choose to give one person all of their business. Of course, hacking online accounts for a living is dangerous business.

Frequent posters often disappear without warning:

anonIB iCloud hack screenshot


If someone can't provide the password for an iCloud account, then hackers will have to use more inventive means. Some iCloud "rippers" choose to use specialist hacking software to gain access to an Apple account. Hacking an account with just an email address takes longer, and will cost more.

This is what password-hacking software looks like:

Password hacking screenshot


But if hackers don't have expensive specialist software, they can instead try and force access to an account using Apple's iForgot password reset tool:

anonIB iCloud hacker screenshot


Apple's security questions can prove tricky for the hackers to guess, so they pool their resources to come up with common methods for hijacking an account.

anonIB screenshot


AnonIB iCloud hackers caution others learning the trade to be careful when trying to take over an account. They claim that it's often best to reset the password at night so that the password reset email can be read and deleted before the target is awake.

Once hackers have gained access to an iCloud account, they use specialist data retrieval tools to download all photos in bulk:

Data retrieval tool for iCloud


While reliable, the retrieval software can't reliably extract images from an iCloud account, and so hackers often take to anonIB to request help:

anonIB ripping software screenshot


After downloading the stolen photos, the hacker will then send them to the client, who will either share them freely with the "Stolen Photos" community, or horde them for himself. The celebrity photo iCloud hack was likely not an individual hack, but a resident of anonIB who had built up a collection of celebrity photos using the iCloud hack exploit mentioned above, and chose to make them public.

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