Experts weigh in on phone security after celebrity hackings

Experts weigh in on phone security after celebrity hackings
Local experts explain how to keep phone information secure. (Source: KLTV Staff)
Local experts explain how to keep phone information secure. (Source: KLTV Staff)

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - If it can happen to a celebrity, could it happen to you?

After more than 100 celebrities were hacked and their personal pictures posted to chat rooms online, questions are arising about phone security.

A hacker supposedly posted a list of celebrities and several photos online, some of them nude pictures, claiming to have many more. The source of the attack has not been confirmed yet, though some are concerned it could be an iCloud breach. Local experts said that's unlikely and it's probably a lot more simple. They said it's easy to become a target, but it's also easy to prevent hackers from getting scores of information right off your cell phone.

"Everybody's at risk. Everybody's at risk if you don't follow some simple steps," said Michael Mahfood, managing partner at Group M7.

Group M7 is a Tyler-based company that stores information online. Mahfood said the celebrity hack was likely as simple as guessing passwords to access information backed up to the cloud and something that could happen to anyone.

"If you don't want something tapped then don't send it to the cloud. The very best, safest, secured, solution is have a portable hard drive on your computer, load the stuff to the hard drive, put the hard drive in the safe, and maybe put some snakes around it," he said.

Mahfood said changing your password is also key.

Your videos and pictures aren't the only thing they can find in your phone. If you've stored credit card info or any official documents, those can be used for identity theft.

"If you've got a Verizon phone or something and you're storing all your personal stuff on the cloud and they get in there and get into that cloud they can get whatever," Tony Hairford, with ISIS Investigations, said.

Hairford said not to download apps that are not from the app store and to never disable security settings, even if asked.

"The kids do it all the time. They will download anything. They don't care," Hairford explained.

A celebrity picture may be worth big money, and that's what hackers want, Hairford said, but if any gain can be made off of your information, or your child's, you are at risk.

"The only way you're going to know if you got hacked, the signs are not visible, is if you see a picture," Mahfood explained. "Someone says, 'I can't believe I just saw a picture of you and what's his name on the internet."

Tony Hairford, a former law enforcement officer, also said if the hacker or hackers who posted that celebrity information online are caught, they could face federal charges. The punishment depends on what exactly the hacker posts and what all is done with the information.

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