Police inquiry after hackers share intimate images online

Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal at Holyrood. Picture: Andrew Cowan
Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal at Holyrood. Picture: Andrew Cowan
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POLICE are investigating after intimate images of 25 women were stolen by hackers and posted on the internet.

The incident took place in August when photographs stored on home computers were accessed and shared online without consent.

There are steps people can take to stay safe online, like changing passwords”


Details of the case were revealed by Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal during a discussion of so-called revenge porn in the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee 

The incident affected women living in such a small area of the country that police said revealing further details was likely to identify the victims.

The Scottish Government is introducing new powers under the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill which will criminalise those who share intimate pictures of ex-partners without their consent, but could also be used to prosecute hackers and voyeurs.

The legislation followed calls from Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland for jail sentences of up to five years for those who maliciously share intimate images or videos.

Ms Boal said the practice had an “absolutely devastating” impact on victims.

She said:“We have interpreted the bill as not only covering intimate images disclosed in a domestic setting, but more broadly.

“To give you an example of why we welcome that, between August 20-22 this year in quite a small area of Scotland we had 25 separate reports made from members of the public regarding the unauthorised posting of intimate images.

“They had either taken the images themselves, or their partners or friends had, and they had stored them on their own personal computers.

“An individual, or individuals, unknown had hacked into their computers and then posted them alongside personal information on the internet.

“It was not in a domestic setting, there is no suggestion that it was a partner or prior partner for these 25 victims.

“But the work that has fallen from that is significant and the impact is just as stark for these 25 women victims as it would be for a domestic setting.”

Ms Boal said figures for four police divisions - Aberdeen, Fife, Forth Valley and Tayside - showed there had been 57 incidents during 2014/15 where intimate images were shared in a domestic setting, with 39 reports submitted to prosecutors.

Chief Inspector Scott Tees said inquiries were ongoing into the hack.

He said: “There are steps people can take to stay safe online and to prevent them becoming victims of hackers, including keeping internet security up to date, changing passwords, keeping personal information private and not sharing security information.

“And before posting anything online make sure you are happy for it to be shared - once something is online it stays online and you have no control over how it is used.”