Ryan Collins, 36, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was sentenced on Thursday to 18 months in prison for his role in leaking private nude photos of celebrities he found by illegally accessing their Google and Apple accounts.
Between November 2012 and September 2014, Collins pulled off a carefully targeted cyber security attack known as spear phishing. He sent targeted emails to his victims purporting to be from Apple and Google that seemed legitimate and tricked his high-profile targets into handing over their usernames and passwords, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.
Sometimes, even for celebrities, it is hard to tell if an email is legitimate or not.
Here are some key cyber security tips:
- If you receive a suspicious email from a place where you have an account, never click on any links inside of it. Instead, go to the specific service provider’s website and log in from there. You can also make a quick phone call. In any case, most companies will not ask for your username or password through an email.
- Once you get to the website, use different passwords for different accounts, and switch passwords often – for banks every three months at least. If you have different passwords and one account gets hacked, the other accounts should be OK.
- If you feel confident about opening a link in a non-business-related email – even if it appears to be from a friend – always hover over the link first to see where the link is going before clicking on it. Your friend’s email account may have been hacked.
There are many, many more hackers just like Mr. Collins who haven’t been caught. Let’s do everything we can to keep them away from our personal, private information.
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