Who Wants to See Elon Musk in His Underwear?
Not me, that’s for sure. But the infamous hacking group, Anonymous, has chosen Elon Musk as their most recent target. Posted to Anonymous’s YouTube channel, the video shows someone donning a Guy Fawkes mask and delivering a cutting speech that has been obscured by a voice modifier.
What is Anonymous, you ask? Some people have differing opinions about their actual abilities (including Musk himself). They are the hacktivist group that was behind attacks on the Westboro Baptist Church, copyright protection laws, and, most famously, the Church of Scientology.
If you haven’t watched the attack on Musk, don’t worry – leaking Elon in his underwear isn’t at the top of Anonymous’s agenda. But the way that Musk has been playing the cryptocurrency market and how this had affected the average joe crypto investor. Anonymous accused Musk of being fundamentally disconnected from normal people.
Celebrities – High-profile Bounties for Hackers
Hackers generally rely on social engineering to get the job done. When computers work, they work really well. But they can’t work at all without a person operating them. And that person is going to make a mistake sometimes.
You’ve probably heard about phishing scams and think that you’re too smart to get caught out by them. But no matter how clever and internet-savvy you think you are, there’s always a conniving hacker out there trying to get you. Just look at these examples of celebrities having their social media account compromised, sensitive details leaked, and the way one band turned a slip in cybersecurity into a success.
July 2020 Twitter Hack
If you followed Elon Musk, Bill Gates, or Barack Obama on Twitter in July 2020, you might have noticed a strange series of posts like this one:
Sadly for the 394 people who responded, it was all a hoax. The theory goes that Twitter’s control panel was compromised and this allowed the hackers to take control of high-profile accounts such as Bill Gates without needing a password.
Making almost 13 BTC ($144,534 in July 2020) from the hack, this social engineering trick cost a lot of people a lot of money. Looking back on it, we might sneer at how people were falling for this trick (why would Barack Obama randomly decide to give thousands of dollars away?), but this is another case of hackers duping people and almost getting away with it.
Anyone who’s ever taken a nude probably knows the fear of it leaking out. This became very much a reality for a lot of high-profile celebrities in 2014 when hundreds of their sensitive photos and videos were leaked online.
Mainly female celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, were targeted by spear-phishing attacks. Hackers sent out messages targeting celebrities, request their iCloud usernames and passwords, and effectively asking them for access to their data. Much to their surprise, dozens of celebrities fell for it.
Radiohead and MiniDiscs [Hacked]
Radiohead was another victim of hacking but managed to turn it into something positive. When over 17 hours of unreleased material was stolen from the band’s cloud archive, they decided they weren’t going to take it lying down.
Instead, the band released the full 17 hours’ worth of material as MiniDiscs [Hacked] to their fans. All proceeds went to the environmental movement, Extinction Rebellion. Reports that the hacker wanted to extort money for his silence seem to have been greatly exaggerated.
Who was Behind the Hacks?
Hacks don’t happen without interested parties, especially those who are wanting to make money. But remember – if we know who these cyber-attackers are, it means they got caught. The very best cyber-attackers might be the ones we know nothing about.
The Twitter Hackers
In the wake of the hacks, three men were arrested – British and American young men from 17 to 22 years in age. Despite these attackers not fitting our stereotypes about what a criminal is, they faced criminal charges for their crimes.
The truth is that the hack was sloppy – Sheppard had verified himself on Binance and Coinbase – cryptocurrency exchange websites – with his own driver’s license. Might as well have just posted his name on Twitter.
Handing himself into the police in 2016, Ryan Collins was the first of four men who were convicted for the Fappening phishing scam. Collins described himself as a “collector” and denied ever leaking any of the stolen media online.
It’s possible to view Collins as a superfan who went too far, but that ignores the larger problem of his intrusive behavior being deeply violating for those affected.
When Zimbra – a “collector” who claimed to have traded them for unleased Beatles recordings – got their hands on the Radiohead tapes, the threat of leaking didn’t take long to appear.
You can read the full story here, but in short, Zimbra wanted to sell recordings to fans at prices ranging between $50 and $800. Although reports appeared that Zimbra had threatened the band with a high ransom, it seems this was never the case. Instead, they only wanted to extort a high price from desperate fans.
What Could Anonymous Get on Elon Musk?
When hackers want to get your sensitive details, they can do it. Although security is becoming better every year, simple phishing scams are enough to catch people out. Elon Musk is one slip away from having his data exposed to the internet, just like the likes of Jennifer Lawrence and Radiohead.
I’m not sure that “Elon Musk’s nudes starting the Fappening 5” is the top of anyone’s Christmas lists, but it might be something that a would-be cyber-attacker would do. Maybe a picture of Elon in his underwear will be enough to knock the self-styled technoking down a peg.
Staying Safe from Hackers
It’s not just celebrities who face the wrath of online attacks. Most people these days are simply not cyber-aware and cyber-safe in a world full of potentially dangerous malware and duplicitous social engineers.
If you’re not especially tech-savvy, you might wonder about the measures you can put in place. But three easy-to-implement measures can defend you against pretty much everything:
- Keep your antivirus and firewall settings up to date
- Don’t open suspicious-looking emails
- Don’t visit suspicious looking sites
Follow those three rules and you’ll on the way to being cyber-safe. You can also improve your online safety by using a VPN to hide your identity online. Read our Ultimate Guide To VPNs to find out what a VPN can do for you and how you can find the best one for your needs.
Should We Be Afraid of Anonymous Attack?
Although the risk of seeing Elon Musk in his underwear is relatively low, that doesn’t mean that he’s safe from hackers. And if a billionaire crypto-bro is under threat, then you are too. Make sure that you keep the antivirus settings up-to-date and avoid suspicious activity online.
Learn from celebrities who made mistakes. Don’t hand out sensitive information over the internet, keep your data secured, and avoid negotiating with cyber-criminals. For people who have suffered attacks, it often turns out that paying a ransom doesn’t save their data.