Nude celebrity photo hacks the work of an 'underground nude trading ring', reports claim

Numerous anonymous posters on forums where the images first surfaced say the cache of images has existed for 'months' and that more leaks are coming

Following the release of scores of nude photographs of celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, reports of an “underground celeb n00d-trading ring” suggest that the images are not simply the product of lone hacker.

Since the first batch of stolen photos was posted online on Sunday evening, new releases have trickled out over the course of the week.

Posters on anonymous image-sharing boards 4chan and AnonIB claim that the cache of stolen images was assembled by a group of hackers and took “several months of long and hard work by all involved”.

Another poster on 4chan has claimed that an “underground celeb n00d-trading ring” that finds these images has “existed for years," with individuals conducting trades with another to “expand [their] collections”.

Read more: Is iCloud safe following celeb hacks?
Lena Dunham on 4Chan photo leaks: 'Hackers are sex offenders'
Emma Watson: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'

“These guys conduct individual attacks on celebs through (I presume) a mix of social engineering and (esp for more high-profile targets) straight-up hacking,” wrote the anonymous tipster. “The only way to join the ring is by ‘buying in’ with original pics (“wins”, as they call them) you’ve acquired by yourself.

“[The] circle hardly ever widens to include more people – very few people even find out about this ring, and fewer still have n00ds to buy in with.”

An edited screen shot from 4chan.

The poster suggested that one “self-style ‘rich kid’” bought into the trading ring and then “blew the lid on this whole operation by sharing them with outsiders for the first time”. This inspired others to “[come] out of the woodwork offering up some of their collections for donations," leading to the avalanche of images on Sunday evening.

Speaking to The Independent, David Emm, a senior researcher at Kaspersky Lab, said that the theory was "certainly feasible" and that the motivation for hacking a celebrity was rarely the same as the motivation for hacking a member of the public.

"If someone wants to hack my Facebook the probability is they're not looking at pictures of me but they're looking to spread malware. But for a well-known person or actor or actress there's juicy information that can be found and, of course, the sleaze factor of getting access to private pictures."

Although first-hand anonymous reports like this are impossible to verify, this particular story fits with other fragments of information about what some publications are referring to as ‘celebgate’.

Sports website Deadspin claims that they heard about the existence of a large cache of images several weeks ago thanks to a tipster. “These photos appear to have been floating somewhere in the bowels of the internet one way or another for awhile,” writes Samer Kalaf. “We tried contacting our original tipster today with no response."

The theory of a collection gathered over time also fits the wide scope of dates attached to the photos, but the existence of multiple hackers - and subsequently of multiple leakers - makes it impossible to identify what Deadspin referred to as “Pervert Zero” – an original hacker.

US pop star Ariana Grande is among those targeted by the mass hacking - though she claims the picutres are fake. One individual who posted the images online was identified by 4chan and Reddit users after including identifying information in screenshots used to boast of his collection. He later told Buzzfeed that he was simply a leaker, and that “the real guy is on 4chan posting intermittently.”

Mr Emm confirmed that any hackers involved were far more likely to be keeping as quiet as possible right now. "The likelihood is that these people always wanted to do it surreptitiously. They wouldn't be hacking accounts and splurging it everywhere - that's the last thing they'd do."

A report from Business Insider suggests that the iCloud hacks (this is Apple’s digital back-up service that uploads iPhone images to online servers automatically) are regularly traded online, with hackers either using specialized software or simply abusing iCloud’s iForgot password reset tool to gain access to celebrities’ accounts.

Security experts’ theories on how the hackers gained access to the private photographs echo this version of events. (The advice to worried iCloud users is make sure they have a strong, unique password for their account and to turn on two-step verification to be doubly safe).

At the moment all of this is speculation, but with the FBI and Apple confirming that they are actively investigating the issue we can certainly expect to hear more about the existence – or non-existence – of an “underground celeb n00d-trading ring” over the coming weeks.  

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Arts and Entertainment
Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
filmCritic Kaleem Aftab picks his favourites for Halloween
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballBeating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Life and Style
Google's doodle celebrating Halloween 2014
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

    £24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

    Marketing Account Manager / Client Liaison Manager

    £25 - 32k DOE: Guru Careers: A digital-savvy Marketing Account Manager / Clien...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Executive

    £23-30k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking bright Business Developmen...

    Inside Sales Manager – SaaS based solutions

    25-30k + Comms + Benefits: Sphere Digital Recruitment: A rapidly expanding tag...

    Day In a Page

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes