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Apple Inc said on Tuesday the online posting of intimate photos of Hollywood celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence were targeted attacks on their iCloud accounts and that none of the cases it investigated had resulted from a direct breach of its systems.
Anonymous user claimed to have photographs of 100 other celebrities including models Kate Upton and Cara Delevingne.
Apple's response came after the photos of Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence and other female entertainers emerged over the Labor Day Weekend. The technology company said it is working with law enforcement and continues to investigate the source of the attacks.
"We have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet," Apple said in a statement.
"None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple's systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone."
The breach comes as Apple prepares to launch a new iPhone next week and, more importantly, as smartphones increasingly become the repository for far more sensitive healthcare, banking and other personal data.
Regardless of how it occurred, the breach prompted celebrity representatives and security experts to issue fresh warnings about storing data on the Internet.
Martin Garbus, a New York trial lawyer who over the years has represented actors Al Pacino, Sean Connery, Robert Redford and others, said worried clients had approached him after the apparent mass hacking over the weekend.
"Nothing is safe on the Internet, period," he told Reuters. "Everything on your iPhone, whether it be phone calls, message texts, pictures, is all available."
Personal photos of Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton and American actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead were also posted on the image-sharing forum 4Chan.
"This is just one of a series of wake-up calls that people are ignoring," said Chris Crowleigh, a cyber-security expert specializing in mobile devices at the SANS Institute.
"People just sort of implicitly accept the risk of storing their data on the cloud until they actually see something bad happen to someone they can relate to."
Lawrence's representative described the release of the photos as a "flagrant violation of privacy" and said the authorities have been contacted.
PHOTOS LIKELY CONSIDERED PRIVATE
The FBI said it is addressing the matter, but added that any further comment "would be inappropriate at this time."
Apart from any criminal charges that might