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How One Man Hacked Hollywood

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Pictures hacked from Hollywood stars' email accounts and phones seem to be a mainstay of popular culture these days. Chris Chaney, one of the most prolific celebrity hackers to date, was recently arrested—but GQ has a wonderful profile of the man which you really have to read.

The feature is full of juicy insights, from the way he went about hacking into accounts, to the revelations he came across while reading what he found. As a little taster:

"What Chaney lacked in technical skills, he made up for in effort. Finding a working e-mail address was a simple process of trial and error. In a Word document, he made a list of random celebrities and, one by one, entered them into Gmail-first name followed by last-until, days later, an address was finally accepted. (In the blur of celebs to follow, he wouldn't be able to recall his first.) Unlocking the account, he knew, would be more difficult. To retrieve a lost password, sites often ask subscribers so-called challenge questions: What's your mother's maiden name? What's your place of birth? Or, in the case of this celebrity, what's your pet's name...

"Before long, he had total access to e-mail accounts of stars including Mila Kunis, Busy Philipps, Ali Larter. And still without work and living with the help of his mom and stepdad, he had plenty of time to read through their messages. He'd wake at noon, chug a can of Java Monster, and check his in-box to find up to 800 e-mails waiting for him-a virtual universe to explore...

"Chaney also saw hundreds of illicit images, so many that he created a special folder within a folder on his computer, organized by name. He estimates that about 60 percent were nudes-mainly cell-phone "self-shots." And they weren't all of young actors. Chaney remembers seeing one actress "in her mid-to-late forties," he says. "Been acting for a while. Huge. I'll just say everyone knows her name.""


I really cannot emphasize how much you should go read this article. Go on. [GQ]

Image from photographerglen under Creative Commons license