An avalanche of private photos allegedly showing actresses Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and Brie Larson, model Kate Upton, U.S. soccer star Hope Solo, and dozens of other celebrities in various states of nudity and near-nudity began leaking online Sunday, in what appears to a massive case of hacking into stars’ personal accounts.
Some cybersecurity experts speculated that hackers may have obtained a cache of private celebrity images by exploiting weaknesses in an online image-storing platform.
“It is important for celebrities and the general public to remember that images and data no longer just reside on the device that captured it,” security researcher Ken Westin wrote in a blog post Monday. “Once images and other data are uploaded to the cloud, it becomes much more difficult to control who has access to it, even if we think it is private.”
The photos first appeared on photo sharing site 4chan, where the anonymous user who leaked them claimed to be in possession of more celebrity photos and videos that would be released in the future. That user also posted a list with more than 100 celebrities names on it.
“This is a flagrant violation of privacy,” Lawrence’s publicist Liz Mahoney wrote in a statement. “The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.”
Mahoney declined to provide further details, including which authorities were contacted. Lawrence, 24, is a three-time Oscar nominee.
The FBI has investigated previous leaks of nude celebrity images, including leaks involving Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, Christina Aguilera and footage of television sports reporter Erin Andrews in a Tennessee hotel room. Those cases resulted in convictions.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller declined comment on whether the agency was involved.
Some of the images were quickly denounced as fakes.
Singer and former Nickelodeon star Victoria Justice took to Twitter to deny that photos released of her were real. “These so called nudes of me are FAKE people. Let me nip this in the bud right now. *pun intended*,” she tweeted.
Actress Mary E. Winstead, another apparent victim, also commented on Twitter, saying “To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.