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The individual that hacked into Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and other celebrity iCloud accounts was sentenced to 9 months in prison and $5,700 in restitution for his crimes. The hacker used a targeted phishing scheme that tricked the celebrities into revealing their login credentials. Once he had their credentials, he was able to login to their accounts and access the private information as well as intimate photos of Lawrence, Upton, and other celebrities.
Surprisingly, the hacker is not being charged with selling, posting, or distributing any of the information he downloaded or accessed illegally. His plea agreement was only to one count of unauthorized access of a protected computer. While the maximum sentence for that crime is 5 years, the prosecution was agreeable to the short 9 month sentence.
Why the Light Sentence?
Some might be wondering why this hacker was sentenced to such a short prison term particularly given Lawrence's position that what he did constituted a sex crime. A few years ago, in a similar scandal, a hacker was sentenced to 10 years for illegally obtaining and posting revealing photos of celebrities online.
However, for Lawrence's hacker, because there was no conviction on charges of distributing the information and photographs, it makes sense that the sentence would be much lighter. Although, at this time, there is some speculation that additional charges could be filed against another party. Additionally, his attorney asserted that the defendant was suffering from depression which led to him making poor choices.
How to Avoid Being a Target of a Hack
This hack was the result of a phishing scheme. The simplest way to avoid being a target is to be exceptionally careful about phishing attempts. Doing so generally requires understanding what they are and how to identify them. Generally, looking for errors in wording or phrases, or in the URLs, can help you identify an email phishing scam. However, as the scammers get more and more sophisticated, it's wise for consumers to stay up-to-date on the newest, and most common, online scams and techniques.
Penalties for Hacking
The penalty for a crime is meant to be proportional to the level of harm the crime caused. When it comes to hacking, however, the penalties can frequently be seen as disproportionate as the criminals tend to be on the cutting edge of technology and the law is not so much.
Depending on the type of hacking crime, a person could be facing decades in jail, and the more malicious the crime is, the worse the punishment is likely to be.