Sydney computer shop staff steal photos of Australian Olympic star having sex with his wife
- Zoe Nauman
- The Sunday Telegraph
- June 10, 2012 12:00AM
INTIMATE photographs of a prominent Australian Olympian having sex with his wife were stolen by staff at an inner-Sydney computer shop after the star brought his machine in for repair.
Shockingly, the practice is not illegal, with information technology experts revealing the law offers no protection from the unauthorised copying of photographs and data from any computer.
The Sunday Telegraph has seen the stolen images, which clearly depict the household-name star and his wife in numerous sexual acts, but has chosen not to name the Olympian or publish the photos for privacy reasons.
Other celebrities, as well as members of the general public, were also caught in the scam, which involved employees at the computer store targeting potential victims who bring their computers in for repair.
With the encouragement of the store's owner, staff scan machines for intimate material and upload photos and videos to a shared drive, according to a source who has provided this newspaper with evidence of the practice.
The store's owner, when confronted by The Sunday Telegraph this week, demanded to know how this newspaper uncovered the allegations. He denied targeting sexual images.
"If people choose to put photos and personal information on their computers that's their decision," he said.
According to Section 308H of the Crimes Act 1900, it is not a criminal offence to "access data which is not protected or restricted by an access control system," or password.
IT experts said many security systems provided no protection from theft by repairers or technicians.
AusCERT, an emergency computer response team that provides computer incident prevention, response and mitigation strategies, warned technicians who are given access to a computer can do anything they like without permission.
AusCERT senior security analyst Joel Hatton said: "A lot of the usual security systems you put in place to protect your computer are not effective.
"You need to pick a trustworthy supplier who is known to be reliable and has a good reputation," Mr Hatton said.
Murray Goldschmidt, chief operating officer at Sense of Security, a computer system security firm, said encryption was one way to protect files.
"If your hard drive isn't encrypted then the technicians will be able to view them. Getting third party software is one way to guarantee secure encryption," he said.
According to this newspaper's source, the Sydney store had a culture where staff competed to get intimate material. "If someone came in who he thought had 'potential,' (the boss) asked if the computer could be looked at to see if there was anything intimate on it.
"Steps were also taken to ensure once this had been done, the owner would not be able to detect it."
The source revealed that anyone, including celebrities and sports stars, was fair game.
"There was intimate and explicit material regarding a number of high profile personalities and this was seen as a particular prize as (the boss) thought it may come in useful to make money. He openly boasted about this to staff."
The businessman denied he was in possession of stolen explicit and intimate images.
He admitted his company dealt with a lot of celebrities, including international talent, but said: "No, it's not happening. I don't know anything about it."
The businessman said professional photographers used his company and suggested he was being blamed for what people chose to allow his staff to see: "I can't control what is on them. People are always looking for someone to blame with regards to these type of things coming out."
The man demanded to know who had provided the information. "No, this hasn't happened," he said. "I don't understand why someone would suggest this. Do they hate me or something?"
AusCERT advises computer owners sit with any computer technician who is working on a machine. "Don't give them more access than necessary, and if you do have separate user accounts you can protect some with passwords," Mr Hatton said.
Users are advised to copy sensitive material to a disc or back-up drive, and then delete it from the computer with specific deletion software.
A Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy spokesman urged computer owners to erase their hard drive before parting with old computers and laptops.
"Simply deleting individual files is not enough to remove personal details," he said.
"The ACCC's SCAMwatch has received reports that unwiped hard drives are fast becoming a sought-after item for scammers, who can use them to access personal details and commit identity theft."
Information on protecting home computers is available at staysmartonline.gov.au