Pennsylvania Man Behind Hacking of Celebrity iCloud Accounts Pleads Guilty

by

icloud_icon_blueRyan Collins, the 36-year-old Pennsylvania man behind the hacking of celebrity iCloud accounts in 2014, has signed a plea agreement and agreed to plead guilty to a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Department of Justice announced (via Gawker).

Collins spent two years (November 2012 to September 2014) engaged in a phishing scheme to obtain the usernames and passwords of his victims, according to the "factual basis of the plea agreement." He sent his victims emails that appeared to be from Apple and Google, asking them to provide their usernames and passwords.

Once Collins obtained the data, he used them to illegally access accounts and extracted private information, which included nude photographs and videos. He also used a software program to download some of the victims' iCloud backups. While Collins obtained the private photos and videos, investigators have not been able to find any evidence that he leaked, shared or uploaded them to the Internet.

“By illegally accessing intimate details of his victims' personal lives, Mr. Collins violated their privacy and left many to contend with lasting emotional distress, embarrassment and feelings of insecurity,” said David Bowdich, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “We continue to see both celebrities and victims from all walks of life suffer the consequences of this crime and strongly encourage users of Internet-connected devices to strengthen passwords and to be skeptical when replying to emails asking for personal information.”

Collins has been charged in Los Angeles, but the case will be transferred to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania so that he can enter his guilty plea. He will face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, but the parties have agreed to recommend a prison term of 18 months. The DoJ stresses that the recommendation is not binding to the sentencing judge.

Shortly after the breach occurred in September 2014, Apple conducted an investigation that revealed the accounts were compromised by weak passwords. The company then made several changes, adding email alerts when iCloud accounts are accessed on the web, app-specific passwords for third-party apps accessing iCloud and enabling two-factor authorization on iCloud.com.

Top Rated Comments

nagromme Avatar
61 months ago
Facts: Google AND Apple AND other users were persuaded to tell a stranger their passwords, so no hacking was needed.

Media headlines that will be remembered forever: APPLE'S SYSTEM WAS HACKED!!!!
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
akfgpuppet Avatar
61 months ago
You guys forgot to include:

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues ('https://forums.macrumors.com/forums/politics-religion-social-issues.47/') forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mw360 Avatar
61 months ago

Nope they we're not! have you ever seen Amateur photos? are all porn!, JLaw's was just erotic nude photos that many others actress already done it in movies, the other photos of her were fake and was someone else. $$$$ JLaw! she one of main reason why PirateBay went down a month later
Why people are supporting her is beyond me! The whole thing was just to promote herself, if you don't agree with me than please explain how there's isn't one porn photo of her from 100 photos?

W..T...F....?

Jennifer Lawrence needed to 'promote' herself? She chose 4chan as a place do do it? It's 'suspicious' she didn't have any porn pictures in her account? Suspicious? Amateur's photos are all porn? You have a really messed up view of what women should be doing with their time. 'She was asking for it,' is not a great way to justify your invasion of her privacy.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MrNomNoms Avatar
61 months ago

Collins spent two years (November 2012 to September 2014) engaged in a phishing scheme to obtain the usernames and passwords of his victims

So in other words it had nothing to do with iCloud security as the perennial Apple bashers love to go on about but stupid people doing stupid things. Maybe in future before people jump into bashing Apple that such individuals realise that the weakest link is the end user himself/herself rather than it necessarily being the result of lax security on the part of the service provider.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RiddlaBronc Avatar
61 months ago
Cant complain. Jennifer Lawrence's nudes were amazing to say the least
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kahkityoong Avatar
61 months ago
Clueless people being duped into giving away their passwords is not being 'hacked'.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

m1 chip macbook air pro

Kuo: Redesigned MacBooks With Apple Silicon to Launch in Second Half of 2021

Tuesday November 24, 2020 7:53 pm PST by
Apple plans to release additional MacBook models with Apple Silicon in the second half of 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, as part of the company's two-year transition away from Intel processors across its Mac lineup. In a research note today, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said that these MacBook models will feature a new design. Kuo did not specify which models these will be, but he...
Apple Watc black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best Apple Watch Deals [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 4:01 pm PST by
Black Friday sales have begun on a variety of products, including the Apple Watch. There are quite a few deals across the Apple Watch lineup this year, including one of the lowest price we've ever seen the Apple Watch Series 3. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the...
AirPods Pro black friday 20 sale feature 2

Black Friday 2020: AirPods Pro Reach Lowest Price Ever [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 3:22 pm PST by
Black Friday has kicked off this week, and one of the first major sales for the AirPods Pro is available right now on Walmart. You can find this deal below, along with a few other solid discounts on the regular AirPods. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site...
13 16 inch macbook pro air trio

Reliable Leaker Suggests Redesigned MacBooks in 2021 Will Include Both Apple Silicon and Intel Models

Wednesday November 25, 2020 9:15 am PST by
Reliable leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today suggested on Twitter that redesigned MacBooks coming in the second half of 2021 will include models with both Apple Silicon chips and Intel processors. The brief Tweet came in response to a MacRumors article from earlier today, which outlined a report from Ming-Chi Kuo claiming that Apple plans to release redesigned MacBook models with Apple ...
mac mini macbook pro macbook air

Apple M1 Hands-On Comparison: MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac Mini

Monday November 23, 2020 3:40 pm PST by
Apple's M1 Macs are out in the wild now, but ahead of the holidays, you might still be trying to figure out which one to pick up, either for yourself or as a gift for someone else. We've got all three of the new Macs available, so we thought we'd give MacRumors readers a hands-on overview of each machine in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...
app store christmas icon

Apple Shutting Down App Store Connect From December 23 to December 27

Monday November 23, 2020 10:14 am PST by
Apple shuts down App Store Connect for a week around the holidays each year in an effort to give App Store staff time off from work. This year, App Store Connect will be unavailable from December 23 to December 27. With App Store Connect unavailable, Apple will not accept new apps or app updates, so all pricing changes and new app submissions need to be locked in before those dates for...
iPads black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best iPad Deals [Updated]

Tuesday November 24, 2020 8:51 am PST by
Black Friday is underway, and we're tracking discounts across Apple's lineup of iPads, including the current-generation 10.2-inch iPad, iPad Air, and iPad Pro. We'll be keeping this post updated as new deals appear and current ones expire, so be sure to keep checking back for the latest. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a...
Target November Deals 1

Black Friday Spotlight: Target Begins Week-Long Sale With Deals on iPhone 12, Powerbeats Pro, and More

Monday November 23, 2020 8:07 am PST by
We've been tracking early Black Friday deals in our dedicated Black Friday Roundup, and in an effort to prepare our readers for the big shopping event we're highlighting sales store-by-store in the lead-up to November 27. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Target. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running....
new mac mini logicpro screen

M1 Macs Able to Run Up to Six External Displays Using DisplayLink

Tuesday November 24, 2020 6:53 am PST by
It is possible to run up to six external displays from the M1 Mac mini, and five external displays from the M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, with the aid of DisplayPort adapters, according to YouTuber Ruslan Tulupov. This far exceeds Apple's specified limits on external displays with the M1 Macs. Apple's host of new M1 Macs are not capable of supporting as many external displays as their...
2020 apple shopping event

Apple Offering Up to $150 Gift Card With Select Products on Black Friday Through Cyber Monday

Monday November 23, 2020 2:53 am PST by
Apple has announced its annual four-day shopping event, offering customers up to a $150 Apple Store gift card with the purchase of select products between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States. The gift card values in the United States are as follows: $150 for 16-inch MacBook Pro $150 for 21.5-inch iMac $50 for 13-inch MacBook Pro $50 for MacBook Air $50 for iPhone SE,...