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Fifth person pleads guilty to 'celebgate' account hijacks

Chris Brannan may face nearly three years in prison.
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NurPhoto via Getty Images

Did we say that all the 'celebgate' perpetrators had faced justice? Well, not quite. A fifth person embroiled in the incident, Virginia resident Chris Brannan, has pleaded guilty to unauthorized access and identity theft charges for his part in the data leaks. He used a combination of phishing emails and simple social engineering efforts (such as hunting Facebook accounts for answers to security questions) to obtain logins for iCloud and email accounts to harvest their data. He compromised more than 200 accounts for "celebrities and noncelebrities," using software to comb iCloud accounts for nude photos and other sensitive info.

Brannan faces a maximum seven years in prison for the combined charges, but there's a real possibility he won't receive the full sentence when sentencing takes place on January 25th, 2019. The parties involved have offered a non-binding recommendation of 34 months in prison.

If the federal judge uses the recommendation, Brannan could face one of the stiffer sentences of the group. Others have seen sentences under two years, or as little as eight months. Such a penalty wouldn't necessarily deter other would-be account hijackers, but it would indicate that they could get considerably more than a slap on the wrist.

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