An enormous mass leak of celebrity nudes took place on August 31st and September 1st. The leak initially appeared on a website called 4Chan but spread rapidly. Subsequent leaks occurred on both September 20th and September 26th. When the dust settled, countless private (and many explicit) photographs and videos of over one hundred celebrities had now been released for the whole of the internet to see. It was initially believed that a security exploit in Apple’s “Find My iPhone” feature had given the hacker(s) unlimited attempts to crack the security passwords of the various celebrities and this led to unauthorized access of their iCloud accounts. In fact, Apple was aware of the exploit six months before the initial attack! Following the initial attack, Apple released a statement and determined that it was not the “Find My iPhone” flaw that had resulted in the leaks, but rather an attack on usernames, passwords, and security questions.
These leaks of private celebrity photos became known by some as ‘Celebgate,’ an homage to the Watergate Scandal. Others, thanks to anonymous social media websites such as Reddit and 4Chan, refer to this event as “The Fappening,” a crude compound of ‘fap’ (to masturbate) and ‘happening’. The waves of leaks were dubbed ‘cummings’ in reference to sexual climaxes. These leaks captured media attention almost immediately and this has helped to shed some light on some privacy problems the ordinary internet user might be oblivious to as it is not just celebrities who are at risk for these attacks. They can target anyone, and it was only the fame and sheer amount of people affected that brought the even into the public spotlight.