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Tokyo cops: Hacker spied on Facebook, iCloud accounts of female celebrities

Daichi Kaneko
Daichi Kaneko

TOKYO (TR) – A man was arrested on suspicion of hacking into the iCloud accounts of celebrities to spy on their private lives, authorities said on Wednesday.

Daichi Kaneko, 29, a company employee from Omura, Nagasaki Prefecture, was arrested by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police on suspicion of violating the Unauthorized Computer Access Act, the Tokyo Shimbun reports (May 18).

Kaneko is charged with illegally hacking into private accounts of women on Apple Inc.’s online iCloud service, including those belonging to celebrities Keiko Kitagawa, Emi Takei and Masami Nagasawa.

The cybercrime division of the Tokyo police said it discovered a list of some 1,000 IDs and passwords on Kaneko’s computer along with some 250,000 photos, but there was no evidence to suggest he leaked any material.

Kaneko reportedly used the names and birthdates of celebrities to figure out their passwords.

“I look up to hackers — I wanted to take control of accounts so I could feel a sense of accomplishment,” Kaneko said, admitting to the allegations. “I was curious to see if there’d be any newsworthy photos [of celebrities].”

From August 2014 to November 2015, police believe Kaneko illegally accessed the iCloud accounts of six celebrities 200 times and their Facebook accounts 36 times. Three celebrities had both their iCloud and Facebook accounts hacked. None of the victims realized they were being hacked.

Authorities were led to Kaneko after they discovered he was hacking into the same Facebook and iCloud accounts of women that were also being hacked by a male 25-year-old company employee in Tokyo, who was arrested last November.

According to the Tokyo police, the suspect had drawn up a list of some 770 Facebook and iCloud login details. A source involved in the investigation said the man used details like names and birthdays of women to figure out their passwords.

The suspect was also able to work out the passwords of the victims’ friends. Some of the victims used the same usernames and passwords for their Facebook and iCloud accounts.

String of hackings

Kaneko’s arrest follows a string of recent cases involving the hacking of cloud services to access private photos and emails of women.

Cloud services are theoretically protected by usernames and passwords, but more and more people are becoming victims because they use simple login details.

Takayuki Sugiura, chief executive officer of data security firm Net Agent, said the “first step in taking measures is to recognize that personal information can suddenly leak.”

Sugiura said passwords should not be reused, and urged users to not rely on simple birthdates or names and use a minimum 12-character combination of symbols and lowercase and uppercase letters.