Madonna thinks her computer was hacked

Turns out that the Material Girl has had her material stolen, and she’s blaming hackers!

This weekend Madonna unexpectedly released six songs on iTunes from her upcoming album “Rebel Heart”.

The release was unexpected because “Rebel Heart” wasn’t due to appear in record stores until Spring 2015. But Madonna’s plans were thrown into chaos when parties unknown released demo versions of some of the tracks.

Madonna took to Instagram, clearly upset that she wasn’t in control of the release of her own music:

This is artistic rape!! These are early leaked demo’s half of which wont even make it on my album the other half have changed and evolved. This is a form of terrorism. Wtf!!!! Why do people want to destroy the artistic process??? Why steal? Why not give me the opportunity to finish and give you my very best?

So, the question is, how did Madonna’s unreleased demo recordings leak out?

In the past, employees of record companies and studio staff have been blamed for unauthorised music leaks – but in the aftermath of the Sony Pictures hack, Madonna suspects something else.

Speaking to The Guardian, Madonna says it’s a “big possibility” that her personal computer was compromised by hackers.

Madonna believes that hackers might be involved, because it apparently wasn’t just music tracks that leaked out but also photographs. In addition, says the star, some of the stolen tracks were recorded many months ago:

“It wasn’t just music. Images were coming out that I’d never seen before. It was then I started to think ok, what’s happening? What is the source of the leak? It’s not just one person, or someone sitting next to me in an office, or someone in a recording studio. I’ve had leaks before, a couple of weeks before an album was released, a lot of other artists have too, we all have to deal with that. But to have songs in the earliest demo form, from last March, that’s extremely disturbing to me.”

“Obviously there is a person, or a group of people behind this that were essentially terrorising me. I don’t want to sound alarming, but certainly that’s how I felt. It’s one thing if someone comes into your house and steals a painting off your wall: that’s also a violation, but, your work, as an artist, that’s devastating.”

“I’m an artistic person, I’m very expressive. I’m sorry if words alarm people, but that’s what it felt like. It was not a consensual agreement. I did not say ‘hey, here’s my music, and it’s finished.’ It was theft.”

Both Madonna and her manager Guy Oseary are keen to identify whoever might be responsible.

Madonna manager's tweet

Although it’s easy to make fun of mega-rich superstars like Madonna, you can’t help but feel some sympathy for her I think. It should be her decision what music gets released, how it gets released and when. Nobody should have the right to steal her music and release it without her permission.

Whether it really was hackers who were to blame or not is unclear. After all, wouldn’t anyone who had hacked Madonna’s personal computer also be tempted to tout her private email conversations to the online gossip mags, or install a keylogger to steal passwords for her online accounts, and cause further mischief?

Furthermore, even if hackers were to blame – is it really the case that the only place these early demos were stored was Madonna’s own computer? Is it likely that they weren’t also shared with collaborators, perhaps via cloud services?

The first point of investigation, I would suggest, would be to look at those who work closely with Madonna and her producers – including those who might have access to her computers or passwords.

Another point to consider is that surely Madonna’s personal computer, containing valuable recordings and other material, is regular backed up (as any device containing important data should be). Where are these backups held? Are they securely encrypted? Who could have access to them?

While the leak is being probed, Madonna might be wise to review her computer security – and ensure that any sensitive information is stored safely inside a properly-protected encrypted vault.

It’s not all bad news for Madonna. The release of the six songs has zoomed her to top of the pops in over 30 countries around the world, as fans choose to buy the tracks rather than hunt around for the leaked demos.

Author Graham Cluley, We Live Security

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