It began August 31 of last year. That day, around 500 revealing photos of celebrity women, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and Scarlett Johansson, were posted to the online message board 4chan and spread like wildfire on sites Imgur and Reddit. Subsequent cache dumps targeted the likes of Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, and supermodel Cara Delevingne.Apple soon revealed that the stolen images were obtained via a series of brute force attacks (“a very targeted attack on user names, passwords, and security questions”) executed against Apple’s iCloud online storage system. In layman’s terms, because Apple’s iCloud service didn’t require two-step password authentication, hackers could take an unlimited number of stabs at celebs’ passwords and security questions.
The unprecedented leak, dubbed “The Fappening,” raised questions about the gaping holes in Apple’s iCloud security, the invasion of celebrities’ privacy, and the misogyny prevalent in online culture—since nearly all the victims in this charade were women. As its most famous target, Jennifer Lawrence was branded the de facto mouthpiece for the wronged women, and lashed out against the hackers, labeling the breach “a sex crime.” I’ve interviewed several other A-list actresses in the wake of The Fappening who had their private photos stolen, but they’ve remained mum on the subject—either afraid of lending it any more ink, or perhaps fearing reprisals from the hackers, who still remain at large.
But one star, Teresa Palmer, spoke with me candidly about the aftermath of being hacked, and how it affected her. Palmer had a collection of private, semi-revealing photos stolen off her iCloud of her on vacation years ago, which were then disseminated online.
“It was difficult,” says Palmer. “It certainly was such an invasion of privacy, but also scary on a universal level that nobody’s stuff is safe. Thank god for me I didn’t really have anything too risqué, but it’s really scary to know that I have so many photos of my son, my birth video, all of my stuff that I know is in the hands of someone that’s hacked into my computer.”
She also spoke out against iCloud security—whose flimsiness most experts have blamed for the hacking. Palmer says she didn’t send her personal photos to anyone.
“That should be enabled,” she says of two-factor authentication. “I don’t know how the initial hack actually happened, but I do know that there’s a way where once they have a password, they can set up a new device attached to your iCloud and get anything that’s ever been in your iCloud—even if photos have been deleted.”
I sat down with the 28-year-old Aussie actress at a grocery market in Los Angeles for a longer profile of Palmer (Warm Bodies), who’s poised to have a massive 2015 with starring roles in the Point Break remake, Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups, and the thriller Triple Nine with Kate Winslet, Woody Harrelson, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. And, last but not least, she’ll star in The Ever After, a gritty love story she co-produced and co-wrote with her husband, actor/filmmaker Mark Webber.
Palmer claims that many of the A-list women targeted by the hackers got together in Los Angeles to commiserate and air their respective grievances. And the Hollywood women who gathered together (who she wouldn’t name), all agreed that The Fappening was an act of misogyny.
“You know what’s so unfortunate?” Palmer says. “All the women got together and talked it out. We all had photos of boyfriends—some are famous, some are not—who are naked, and none of the photos of famous men were ever released. It was all women. So, it was a personal attack on women, and trying to shame women. I just think it’s disgusting that there were no men—I think there was only one male victim—so women were specifically targeted.”
For Palmer, who gave birth to son Bodhi last February, life hasn’t changed since the hack, and she says while the whole episode was “really disappointing” and “you have to be super careful” with what you store on services like iCloud, she doesn’t feel the least bit ashamed by the images of her that circulated online.“It hasn’t changed what I do,” she says. “I’ll be in the bath with my son and my husband will take a picture of us. I’ve just given over to the fact that, ‘You know what? This may end up on the Internet, and if it ends up on the Internet, it ends up on the Internet.’ I think I have a pretty healthy perspective on it, but I know some of the other girls were really traumatized by it."