Nude Pics, the Cloud and Privacy

Recently several nude pics of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and baseball player Justin Verlander have been leaked online. There’s much speculation as to how these photos were accessed. It was due to a bug in the iCloud. The hackers somehow gained access to the target’s email accounts via a phishing scam. Or a celebrity’s disgruntled assistant with access to that person’s email or social media accounts needed some extra cash and sold of the account info. It’s possible it’s all of the above.

But let’s be real. These days, taking nude photos with a smartphone is common. Huffington Post recently did a piece on the etiquette of sending pics of your junk. So I don’t think this a trend that’s going to stop anytime soon.

And don’t think this is just a celebrity problem. This can happen to you. Cyber-bullying or harassment by a fellow student, “friend” or an ex who gets access to your account info is too common.

What people may want to think about is whether they really want their phones to automatically store their photos to the cloud.

When setting up my iPhone, and after each major upgrade, it always seems the iOS is steering me towards putting everything on the iCloud. I haven’t used an Android or Windows smartphone, but I wouldn’t be surprised if things aren’t that different.

Having your information on the cloud provides a backup so if you lose your phone or it gets destroyed the information can be restored on the new one. Additionally, because your data is on the cloud, it can be seamlessly and instantly accessed on other mobile devices or your desktop.

I do put certain things on the iCloud like calendar info and tasks but that’s it. I used to keep my contacts on it until they disappeared from my phone due to some bug with the iCloud. Pics do not go on the iCloud.

I’m a bit of a control freak which is why I don’t feel comfortable putting everything on the cloud, especially a free cloud service that someone just needs your email account to access. I’m fine with plugging my phone into my PC and copying over whatever pics I want. I know. It takes an ungodly amount of 2-3 minutes or less. But so be it. I remember having to take a roll of film to the drug store and wait a few days before getting to see the photos.

Sometimes there’s a price to pay with easy, seamless and convenient technology. The price is weak security.

Until cloud services devise a stronger form of security, and they are trying (e.g., Two-step verification), I’d recommend keeping those pics you really want to keep private local. Also, be careful who you share your email account password with, watch out for phishing scams, disable your Bluetooth on your phone when not in use, and don’t make a habit of using free Wi-Fi hotspots. Basically be paranoid. Or you can be like former Senator Anthony Weiner who I really don’t think gives a damn who sees his stuff.

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