A 21-year-old woman has been charged with hacking Selena Gomez's email
One of the biggest threats celebrities face in the modern age these days is data theft; particularly when many of them are so closely attached to their various social media accounts. Who can forget the controversy and outrage generated back in 2014, when almost 500 private images of a number of female celebrities, (some of which involved them in a nude or sexually-explicit context, were posted to the infamously-offensive image board 4chan? The pictures were later disseminated on other forums such as networks such as Imgur and Reddit, and many of the affected victims were left traumatised. Celebrities affected by the hacking incident included people like Jennifer Lawrence, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Kirsten Dunst, among others.
At first it was believed that the stolen pics were obtained via a breach of Apple's iCloud service. Then it was theorised that the hackers had seemingly exploited a security oversight in the iCloud API, which gave them unlimited opportunities to guess the celeb's passwords. Eventually it was revealed that the guilty parties had obtained the passwords through targeted phishing scams. As a result of an FBI investigation, numerous perpetrators have been arrested, although many others are still at large.
Despite the arrests, many celebrities are still vulnerable to this kind of cybercrime. Case in point: a 21-year-old woman has recently been charged with hacking musician Selena Gomez's email account. In a written statement which was made public on Friday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office accused Susan Atrach of accessing Gomez's accounts multiple times between June 2015 to February 2016, and of obtaining images and other files Gomez had stored there.
Atrach, a resident of Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, has been ultimately charged with five counts of identity theft, five counts of accessing computer data to commit fraud or illegally obtain money, property or data and another count of accessing computer data without consent. If found guilty, she faces a maximum sentence of nine years in a state penitentiary.
Atrach allegedly managed to gain access to Gomez's protected accounts by resetting the passwords. Atrach used information gleaned from multiple publicly-available sources, including interviews and profiles from media outlets, to bypass the questions. Atrach did not attempt to profit from the files or give the media she obtained to publications, which seems to suggest that she was motivated entirely by curiosity.
The news will come as a relief to Gomez, who has had to contend with her ex boyfriend Justin Bieber getting engaged to Hailey Baldwin this month. Many fans of hers have been left intensely curious about her reaction to the news. However, a spokesperson representing the Disney Channel alumni has since stated: "At this point, she's just trying to focus on her own life and her own happiness ...She's not going to get caught up in what he's doing. She's found her happy place and is focused on what's working for her." Well, at least this arrest will give her small amount of piece of mind.