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Personal photos: Keep them out of the cloud

Posted at 10:15 AM, Sep 02, 2014

Some are blaming the recent leak of nude celebrity photos on “the cloud,” and they could be right.

The incident is bringing forth questions about what iCloud is, and the security measures in place.

Apple is“actively investigating” the alleged hack, and the FBI has also joined the hunt.

According to the Verge, it's unclear how the images were obtained, but anonymous 4chan users said that they were taken from celebrities' iCloud accounts.

Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Mary Elizabeth Winstead confirmed that the released photos of them were real.

Other celebrities, including Ariana Grande and Nickelodeon star Victoria Justice, are publicly calling the images purported to be them “complete forgeries” and “fake.”

So what is iCloud

As Jay (Jason Segel) humorously foretold in the recently released movie “Sex Tape,” “Nobody understands the cloud, it’s a ****ing mystery!”

Similar to storing documents and photos on Google Drive or Dropbox, iCloud is a “cloud” for document storage, where iPhone, iPad and Mac product users can store photos, documents, contacts and more, and synchronize the content between devices.

What makes iCloud different than other services is the automatic backup that happens when a user’s device is connected.

So even though a compromising photo may be deleted from an iPhone’s camera roll, it can still show up in the “My Photo Stream” section, and be automatically uploaded to the mobile phone user’s linked iCloud account when plugged into a computer or when plugged in and connected to WiFi, depending on the user’s settings.

For those who believe in the “better safe than sorry” maxim, Business Insider has put together a handy tutorial for how to switch off iCloud, to avoid an accidental nude photo upload in the first place. 

Top tips:

  • Turn iCloud off on mobile devices.
  • Delete photos in “My Photo Stream” on mobile devices. (Photo stream can also be turned off entirely.)
  • Turn iCloud off on desktop devices.