It took eleven months for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to arrest a Florida man who has allegedly infiltrated the emails of Hollywood stars, including Scarlett Johansson whose topless pictures were on circulation last month on the Internet.
Christopher Chaney, 35, was arrested from Jacksonville, Florida. The arrest was made following the investigation into the hacking of over 50 victims in the world of showbiz. Other recently attacked celebrities include Mila Kunis and Christina Aguilera.
The alleged hacker was brought before a court in Florida and was released on $10,000 bond. He will have to appear again before the court on Friday. Till then, he is out on the condition that he would he have no access to a computer or other device with Internet access, CNN reported.
Chaney will be transferred to a Los Angeles court for the trial. If convicted in all 26 charges against him, he will face up to 121 years in prison. The charges against him include accessing and damaging computers, wire tapping and identify theft.
The operation to arrest the alleged hacker was named Operation Hackerazzi by the FBI.
Celebrity information is highly marketable, said Steven Martinez, head of the FBI, Los Angeles office.
Christina Aguilera's computer was hacked last December, and the pictures of Scarlett Johansson Mila Kunis were released last month.
Johansson appears topless in the pictures. Apparently, those pictures were taken by Johansson herself.
U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr said that all the Johansson photos are suspected to have been hacked by Chaney. He also took financial information, movie scripts and conversations that the victims believed were private, said Birotte, adding that Chaney allegedly had the ability, to see the emails received and sent, to a hacked account.
So how did Chaney Hack?
FBI officials believe that Chaney's used open-source, public information to try to guess a celebrity's email password, and then would breach the account.
After that, he allegedly communicated directly with contacts found in the hacked email's address list and would also search the account for photos, information and other data.
To control the account, Chaney allegedly altered the email's account settings to go to a separate, unrelated email address that he controlled. After gaining complete access to the hacked account, Chaney then used the contact list to, harvest, new targets, the FBI said according to the report.
He allegedly used the hacker names trainreqsuckswhat, ''anonygrrl and jaxjaguars911, and also used the victims' identities to illegally access and control computers. He is accused of damaging email servers that caused losses of at least $5,000 per instance.
No response so far has been given out by
The publicists of Johansson, Aguilera and Kunis have not yet responded to the FBI announcement.