Technical and Cyber Unit
Advocacy and Public Relations Unit
COUNTRY: Global, including United States
HACKERS CONTINUE TO EXPLOIT DATA SECURITY WEAKNESSES TO STEAL AND PUBLICLY DISSEMINATE NUDE PHOTOS AND VIDEOS OF CELEBRITIES AND INFLUENTIAL FIGURES; OFTEN THE BREACHES SUCCEED THROUGH INDIRECT TARGETING OF PERIPHERAL CONTACTS INCLUDING ROMANTIC PARTNERS.
DOI: 2012 to mid-2019
SOURCE: Exploitation of cell phones, laptops and cloud storage servers.
As of mid-2019, there was an increased threat of losing one’s private, intimate photos/videos and other data to a targeted hacker: victims were failing to implement privacy tools congruent with the vulnerability that their celebrity created. Tactical Rabbit had successfully identified several such intrusions and theft in the celebrity community, and in most cases the hacks succeeded because an unwitting, unsuspecting romantic partner failed to adequately secure content depicting the celebrity stored on the partner’s device and/or cloud server.
If you are a person of fame or intrigue, chances are pretty good any number of hackers are trying to surreptitiously obtain your private photos and data: from Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence, to Jeff Bezos. Websites abound with photos of celebrities whose every public appearance and online visage is intricately sculpted by a team of publicists, stylists, attorneys, managers and agents. And yet in one hour this multi-million dollar image can be ripped from their grasp and, in graphic terms, splattered inelegantly around the grimy, back-page alleys of the internet.
Once these photos see the light of day on the web, even on seemingly obscure and tasteless pages, they are forever exposed.
Tactical Rabbit has used advanced cyber counter-measures with celebrity clients to reverse-engineer these hacks: identify the intrusion moment(s) and access point(s), determine any signature exploits or forensic identifiers, and in some cases pinpoint the exact hacker – by name, photo, location, IP address, MAC address, etc.
In a recent case from 2019, a celebrity client in Hollywood contacted Tactical Rabbit immediately after their private, nude photos and videos were released on the internet and they were contacted by an anonymous individual demanding a large payment to prevent additional dissemination. Within approximately two days, we identified the source of the leak – a common issue, the celebrity’s romantic partner did not take adequate precautions to fully safeguard their data and that of the celebrity on their mobile device and/or cloud server. Within one additional day, we identified the hacker – by name, photo, location, IP address, etc. Additional action is ongoing.
Separately, CAA actress/singer Bella Thorne was also hacked. She reacted by immediately releasing several of the hacked photos herself. But a more systematic, effective and strategic response was available and would have been more prudent. Namely, a tight constellation of targeted counter-attack tools and maneuvers could have been quickly employed to potentially identify the hacker and, in so doing, truly “take back power” for the victim. Releasing the photos may only have reduced future tactical and legal options.
In addition to helping clients determine the source of a cyber/data breach (and even the identity of the hacker), Tactical Rabbit is also working with clients’ professional teams to include the tactical counter-measures into a broader awareness campaign: informing and educating vulnerable populations, including non-celebrities and young girls, regarding the cyber threats that exist and the precautions that should be employed to mitigate the risks; as well as a campaign to proactively fight back against hackers, cyber-thieves and bullies.
In this way, Tactical Rabbit is at the leading edge of private intelligence agencies with real-world case history and success alchemizing cyber forensics, response consulting, advocacy and awareness, risk mitigation and precautionary education for individuals and management firms.
Everett A. Stern, M.B.A.
Intelligence Director, Tactical Rabbit Former U.S. Senate Candidate
www.TacticalRabbit.com / www.EverettStern.com