Newsflash: Sarah Palin may no longer be the most famous victim of electronic crime. French President Nicolas Sarkozy found himself a contender for that dubious title following news reports that hackers managed to steal some money from his personal bank account.
While it is not yet clear how Sarkozy’s account information was stolen, some analysts speculate that it was not a classic phishing attack. It’s more likely that Sarkozy’s credit card information was stolen at some point in time–perhaps during one of his many trips abroad–and sold as just one of the many thousands of similarly compromised accounts. This is known as carding.
If what happened to Sarkozy were indeed a case of carding, it lends some credence to statements by French law enforcement that the hackers didn’t know they were stealing from the French president. After all, there are few acts more likely to draw police attention than making a victim out of a national politician–just ask David Kernell, the student accused of breaking into Sarah Palin’s email account. Kernell was recently indicted in federal court, and faces several years in prison.
Sarkozy’s bank (which was not identified in media reports) may also be in hot water, as government spokesman Luc Chatel says:
When one gives personal information to one’s bank, it is not so the information is used for marketing or recruiting purposes, or that it should be divulged here or there.
These recent incidents bring home the point that public figures can now expect to find themselves under scrutiny not just from papparazzi, but from hackers as well. Entertainers have had to deal with crime as well: Miley Cyrus had her own Google Mail account compromised, and the suspect there was the recipient of a not-so-friendly visit visit by the FBI.
Right now it’s been nothing more than a nuisance–Palin’s email turned up nothing of significance, and Sarkozy probably won’t miss too much Euro. However, that may not be true for much longer: it may not be long before more compromising events happen. Cyrus’s case may well set the tone: her compromised account resulted in several embarassing photos making their way out to the Internet. It probably won’t be the last time a celebrity runs afoul of hackers.
Other celebrity-related incidents: