36-year-old Christopher Chaney of Jacksonville, Florida, better known as the man who hacked into the email accounts of several celebrities, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.Besides the 10-year prison sentence, the judge has also ordered the hacker to pay $66,179 (51,000 EUR) in restitution.
“Illegal wiretapping gave Mr. Chaney access to every e-mail sent to more than four dozen victims and allowed him to view their most personal information,” said U.S. Attorney André Birotte, Jr.
“Mr. Chaney is responsible for causing dozens of illegally obtained, private photographs to be posted on the Internet, where they were available for all to see. This case is a sobering reminder that cybercrime poses a very real threat to every American, and everyone should take steps to safeguard their identities and personal information on the Internet.”
Back in March, Chaney pleaded guilty to hacking into the accounts of over 50 individuals associated with the entertainment industry, including Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, Christina Aguilera, and Renee Olstead.
He admitted that he had managed to gain access to private photos, personal information, letters, scripts, driver’s license details and other confidential documents belonging to the victims.
Chaney revealed that he had gained access to the email accounts by using the “forgot your password” feature and by guessing the answers to the secret questions. Once he breached the accounts, he changed their settings to ensure that all the emails received by his victims would be forwarded to him.
In order to hide his tracks, he used the Hide My IP proxy service.
“For many victims, Mr. Chaney’s actions were tantamount to breaking and entering of their private homes by a thief in the night,” said Bill Lewis, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
“Mr. Chaney methodically targeted his victims based on their celebrity without regard for the law or the impact the theft of personal and intimate details would have to their lives. This case illustrates the need for cybersecurity vigilance by computer users and, in addition, may serve as a deterrent for anyone contemplating similar intrusions.”