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'How I hacked Hollywood,' a cautionary tale

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GQ has a feature on Chris Chaney, a man that hacked Hollywood email accounts over a period of three years before being captured by the FBI.

Hollywood Hacker (credit GQ)
Hollywood Hacker (credit GQ)

Four years ago, Chris Chaney was jobless, depressed, and browsing the web when he fell upon a compromising photo of Miley Cyrus that would dramatically alter the course of his life. The photo raised questions for Chaney; who stole this picture, how did he do it, and how hard could it be for him to do the same?

Fast forward three years. Chaney is laying in bed, his body speckled with red lasers from the guns of the federal agents that surrounded him. Now a prolific Hollywood hacker, his antics had got him noticed by the wrong crowd. So how exactly did a man that didn't know an ounce of code, and had only owned a computer for a few years, gain access to celebrities' private emails and photographs? With a lot of time, and very little effort.

Chaney's method was painfully simple. He entered full celebrity names into Gmail's login field until he got a hit, and then retrieved the lost passwords by researching the answers to security questions on IMDb. Within months Cheney had access to thousands of emails, and, unsurprisingly, hundreds of illicit images. You can find the full story of Chaney's fascinating rise and fall at the source link below.