Hacker stole secret script for Downton Abbey finale, six months before broadcast

Downton AbbeyIt’s enough to give Lady Mary the vapours…

The notorious hacker “Guccifer”, who has made a habit of picking on the rich and famous, has reportedly broken into the private email accounts of scores of new victims in the last year, scooping up private personal photographs, confidential financial documents, and phone records.

The Smoking Gun reports that the hacker’s latest victims include comedian Steve Martin, actress Mariel Hemingway, muck-raking unauthorised biographer Kitty Kelley, and magazine editor Tina Brown.

In addition, three members of the UK’s House of Lords, ex-Nixon aide John Dean, and the director of Romania’s intelligence service were also said to have been compromised by Guccifer’s activities.

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Meanwhile, the hacker managed to gather the mobile phone numbers of wrinkly thespians Robert Redford and Warren Beatty, and the private email addresses of celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman.

Perhaps most bizarrely, Guccifer – who is clearly a fan of hit British TV period dramas – managed to snaffle the script for a season finale of “Downton Abbey”, six months before the episode aired.

It seems likely that Guccifer managed to gain access to some of the accounts he hacked by correctly guessing the secret answers to security questions. If you’re a public figure, it’s not a great idea to use information which may only be a Wikipedia search away as protection for your account.

Password reminder

Even if you’re not in the public eye, I don’t recommend answering these “What was your mother’s maiden name?” type questions honestly, as it can be easy for someone to find out the answer and gain unauthorised access to your online life.

Guccifer has made plenty of headlines in the past, having hacked Colin Powell’s Facebook page and released details of an alleged affair, hacked the account of the author of Sex and the City and leaked a draft of her latest novel, and doxed members of the Bush presidential family.

Few facts are known about Guccifer, but Softpedia reports that the Romanian Intelligence Service, smarting no doubt over the hack of their director’s email account, is is confident that the hacker will be caught.

You can read much more about Guccifer’s antics in The Smoking Gun article.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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