Put effort into privacy

By Luke Wilusz

A hacker group calling itself Hollywood Leaks made headlines last week when it posted nude photos of Scarlett Johansson, which were apparently stolen from her mobile phone, to the Web.

The FBI is currently investigating this intrusion, along with alleged hacks of several other celebrities’ email accounts, because apparently Johansson’s breasts are a national treasure and must be defended at all costs.

All joking aside, though, this sort of invasion of privacy is a serious crime, and in no way do I sympathize with or support these hackers. Their actions can cause a lot of trouble and public embarrassment for a person, not to mention the damage it can do to his or her reputation.

However, I find it difficult to feel sorry for people who make incriminating photos of themselves this easy to access.

As a general rule of thumb, people should probably avoid carrying incriminating or compromising photos or videos of themselves everywhere they go on their phones. Even if they don’t expect somebody to hack into it, there’s always the chance that it could be lost or left somewhere for an opportunistic scumbag to find and exploit. This should be common sense for anybody, especially celebrities with high public profiles who want to avoid an embarrassing incident like this.

The same goes for storing incriminating data on a personal computer. If a person has things he or she doesn’t want people to see, it’s not hard to password protect them. A simple Google search will turn up free, easy to use encryption software that anybody could learn to use.

However, such electronic security measures can be flawed, and the best way to protect confidential files is to physically isolate them from anything connected to the Internet. People can just store sensitive data on a separate drive or disc that is not physically connected to a computer at all.

Any Internet or network-connected device can be infiltrated from a distance, but somebody would need to physically steal a separate hard disk or flash drive in order to access the data stored on it.

So even though invasion of privacy and electronic theft certainly shouldn’t be encouraged, I don’t have much sympathy for people who take little or no action to secure their dirty little secrets.

It’s not a difficult thing to do. People wouldn’t leave raunchy photos of themselves physically lying around in a folder marked “Do not open, please and thank you,” and expect them to remain secure. They should take some basic precautions to protect things they don’t want made public or, better yet, avoid doing things that could embarrass them or hurt their reputations in the first place.