The FBI has opened an investigation into the slew of photographs showing celebrities in varying states of undress that have been leaked online.

Personal photographs and videos of at least 20 celebrities, including Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence and teen star Victoria Justice were leaked onto the internet after allegedly being hacked from private cloud storage services such as Apple’s iCloud.

Earlier, Jennifer Lawrence’s rep said:

“This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos.”

The images were leaked onto the anonymous /b/ messageboard at 4chan and widely shared online, with the leaks being described as “the Fappening“.

It is not yet clear how all the images were obtained, but the information points to the files having been hacked from compromised iCloud accounts, after celebrity iPhone users utilised the service to automatically backup their photographs and images.

Apple has said that it is investigating whether iCloud accounts had been the target of the hacks.

The files are alleged to have been traded in private circles for months or even years before they were finally leaked online over the last few days.

Celebrities allegedly affected by the hack include Jennifer Lawrence, Victoria Justice, Kate Upton, Cat Deeley, Ariana Grande, Kirsten Dunst, Hope Solo, Krysten Ritter, Teresa Palmer, McKayla Maroney, Aubrey Plaza, and Jessica Brown Findlay.

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