Chaney admitted to hacking into email accounts of over 50 celebrities, including Scarlett Johansson, Lady Gaga, and Miley Cyrus, the FBI announced this week.
Chaney mined details of the stars’ personal lives in celebrity magazines and websites, as well as Twitter and Facebook posts, looking for potential passwords that would give him access to their accounts. Once Chaney gained access and control of an e-mail account, he was able to obtain private information, such as e-mails, documents, and photographs, including nude photos of Johansson.
In addition to the possible prison term, Chaney agreed to forfeit his computers and related devices seized during the investigation, to pay restitution to all of the victims for any losses they suffered, and to comply with strict restrictions regarding his future use of computers and computer-related devices. In exchange, the government agreed to dismiss the remaining counts, including nine counts of aggravated identity theft, at the time defendant is sentenced, which is set for July 23.
“Mr. Chaney’s admission to compromising victim accounts, utilizing both technically and socially engineered means, demonstrates the persistence and extent to which a hacker will go to obtain private information. This case sends an important message to all users of Internet-accessible media that practicing good computer security makes us less vulnerable to this type of attack. The FBI remains committed to investigating cyber adversaries who target protected computers, whether of private citizens or the nation’s critical infrastructure”, said Steven Martinez, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.