More than 20 celebrities and public figures, including First Lady Michelle Obama, have had their private information exposed on a mysterious website believed to be run by hackers. FBI and Secret Service agents are investigating.
Others targeted by the celebrity hackers include Jay Z, Britney Spears, Tiger Woods, and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, reports The Associated Press.
The website lists the celebrities' private information such as Social Security numbers, credit reports, addresses, and phone numbers. In addition, the website taunts some of its victims and features some unflattering photos.
So far, it's not clear where the website is based or who's behind it. The Twitter account for the website includes an anti-police message in Russian, so that may provide some clues as to where the hackers are located, reports the AP.
It's not clear how the hackers accessed the private information, some of which is available on public websites. However, some tips that celebrities and laypeople alike can follow to protect themselves include:
- Review privacy policies on websites that you visit. If you shop online, or visit other sites where you provide private information, you'll want to know how these sites protect your private information.
- Try not to overshare. While it may seem like everyone shares everything on social media these days, you should try not to identify where you live or divulge other sensitive information.
- Be careful on public computers. Try to avoid entering personal information on public computers, especially at Internet cafes and libraries. Even if you close your browser, the data may be stored in cookies and elsewhere on the computer.
- Don't reveal financial information over the Internet. Very few businesses or organizations will need to know your credit card or bank account information over the Internet. Be wary if you are asked to provide such information, especially over email.
- Avoid unsecured networks. If you log on to an unsecured network like one at an airport or cafe, a hacker can easily get access to your computer and everything in it.
- Obama: Authorities Looking Into Celeb 'Secret Files' Hack (ABC News)
- Computer Crime (FindLaw)
- 11 Ways to Stay Safe Online & Protect Your Privacy (FindLaw's Insider)
- The FindLaw Guide to Online Fraud and Identity Theft (FindLaw - Free Download)