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An underground trade in these high-profile images has been going on for years, and continues today. This leak was likely an aberration, a clueless move from a greedy rookie that exposed a long-hidden ring built around stealing and trading private photos of high-profile women.
Disturbingly, according to those with knowledge of the trading rings, these leaked photos represent just the tip of the iceberg, an accidental glimpse into a world that would have preferred to stay buried. He says the same moral code applies more broadly across a wide range of hacker groups. In fact the perception is that if someone shows up and tries to make a lot of money, they are going to blow everything up. Security research Nik Cubrilovic, who has spent time immersed in the underground world of celebrity nudes and revenge porn, concurs.
The less nude pictures there are available, the higher the asking price. Conversely, the more widely shared and distributed an image has become, the less valuable it is. Users would compare their lists of sets and then come to an agreement to exchange one for another. This way the traders and collectors each build up their image sets over time and they have an incentive to go out and find new sources of rips.
So who broke ranks and why? Cubrilovic has a well-written theory for how things fell apart. Cubrilovic tracked down posts on AnonIB offering high-profile nudes dating back to five days before the story broke into public view, but nobody took the seller seriously until the uncensored proof hit 4chan, after which it spread across the web like wildfire. From there, more and more images began to spill out.
There is a world of pay-to-play hacking, where someone delivers personal data like names, birthdays, s, passwords, and social security s to a hacker who then breaks into the and steals as much data as possible. This seems to have been common practice on AnonIB, the site where the celebrity nudes first came into public view, but it is a distinct phenomenon from the world of hacking and trading in high-profile images of stars, where it appears money changing hands was less common than pure barter.
That they have been in operation for so long yet not revealed themselves publicly speaks to that," says Cubrilovic. There is a certain irony to the idea that there was never much monetary value to these celebrity images, as the people hawking the images on AnonIB found out. A paparazzi photographer can use a telephoto lens to take photos of a bikini-clad Kate Middleton, which are worth six figures, and run them in magazines sold in grocery stores and airport bookshops. The leaked pictures were valuable only so long as they stayed hidden within these underground trading networks, where they could be exchanged for a few hundred dollars in bitcoin, other stolen nudes, and access to the community itself.
These invasions are all the more disturbing because they were probably happening long before the victims ever noticed. There was no public market for these images, so they likely circulated in private for months or even years before accidentally breaking into public view. And researchers say there may be a far greater of images from other celebrities that have yet to be exposed. Messages from some of the underground boards Kaminsky studied mentioned returning to compromised s again and again to harvest new photos. You look to establish a persistent threat. Subscribe to get the best Verge-approved tech deals of the week.
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Linkedin Reddit Pocket Flipboard . A glimpse into a world that prefers to stay hidden But several deep dives by security researchers into the secretive online world of stolen nudes paints a very different picture. Far less scandalous images are ironically also more valuable These invasions are all the more disturbing because they were probably happening long before the victims ever noticed.
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