Nude photos stolen from Scarlett Johansson's phone surfaced on the Web today, and the 26-year-old Hollywood star is going on the offensive to put a stop to the hacking ring suspected of being behind the incident.
Johansson has enlisted the FBI to investigate how the self-shot naked photos, which appeared on several sites and spread quickly by Twitter word-of-mouth, were stolen from her iPhone and leaked for the world to see, celebrity site TMZ reported.
"The FBI is investigating the person or groups responsible for a series of computer intrusions involving high-profile figures," an FBI spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse.
TMZ reported Thursday that Johansson's lawyer had sent cease-and-desist letters to websites that posted the photos, claiming the photos were copyright-protected.
It appears Johansson is the latest victim of a criminal ring responsible for stealing nude photos and videos from 50 celebrities by hacking into their phones and computers.
Back in March, TMZ said the FBI was closing in on the ring, which in addition to Johansson's photos, also reportedly siphoned naked images from stars such as Jessica Alba, Selena Gomez, Christina Aguilera, Demi Lovato, Ali Larter, Miley Cyrus and Vanessa Hudgens, who met with the FBI in March after her nude photos leaked on the Web.
On Wednesday, TMZ also reported that actress Mila Kunis' cellphone had been hacked, resulting in the posting of provocative photos of "Friends With Benefits" co-star Justin Timberlake.
Contacting the FBI to bust up the ring of hackers who stole your naked pictures is one way to attack the problem, but it doesn't get to the root of the larger issue.
Joe Brown from the tech website Gizmodo summed it up nicely: "If you are famous and take nude photos of yourself, they will end up on the Internet."
A digital photo of yourself, especially a nude one, "is like a giant skeleton shaking your closet doors and moaning 'TMZ' at all hours," Brown wrote. "Especially when it's a cellphone photo. Think of how many people have access to your cellphone in a given day: co-workers, acquaintances, tech support people, etc."
Graham Cluley from the security company Sophos made another valid point regarding any nude photos you see on the Internet, especially ones as sought-after and blogged about as Johansson's: They provide online crooks with attractive new bait.
"I would suggest that every hot-blooded male exercises some restraint as it's extremely possible that cybercriminals might exploit the interest to post dangerous links on the Web designed to infect computers and steal information," Cluley wrote.
Here's a bit of advice celebrities and regular folk can benefit from. Several anti-virus vendors now make software specifically for mobile phones, and there are also some simple tips you can follow to keep your private phone information, whatever it may be, private.