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US man jailed for hacking into celebrity accounts

Edward Majerczyk is jailed for 9 months and ordered to pay $5,700 compensation for hacking iCloud and Gmail accounts and stealing celebrity nude photos

A 29-year-old man has been jailed for 9 months for gaining unauthorised access to Apple iCloud and Gmail accounts of 30 celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, and stealing nude images.

Edward Majerczyk of Chicago, Illinois was also ordered to pay $5,700 compensation to an unnamed celebrity whose photos were leaked online in 2014.

The sentencing comes after he pleaded guilty in July 2016 to unauthorised access after tricking victims into revealing their account usernames and passwords using phishing emails.

Majerczyk sent messages that looked like security warnings from internet service providers that tricked a total of 300 victims in 2013/2014 into visiting malicious websites designed to steal log-in information.

However, he was not charged or accused of selling or posting online the stolen images of celebrities which included Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and model Kate Upton.

Majerczyk could have been sentenced up to five years in jail, but received a lighter sentence in exchange for his guilty plea.

His lawyer also said at the time of the offence his client was “suffering from depression” and had “consistently expressed remorse” for his actions and that he had not sold or shared the images.

In October 2016, 36-year-old Ryan Collins of Lancaster, Pennsylvania was sentenced to 18 months in jail for hacking into at least 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts from 2012 to 2014.

Read more about two-factor authentication

In March 2016, he pleaded guilty to hacking into accounts belonging to several celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Rihanna and Avril Lavigne.

Like Majerczyk, he had faced up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine, but also received a lighter sentence in exchange for his guilty plea.

The two men were found to have used similar methods for accessing the accounts, but neither were linked to stolen images that appeared online.

In response to both hacking cases, security commentators said both underlined the importance of using two-factor authentication for online accounts, to keep hackers out even if passwords are compromised.

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention

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