Madonna hacking suspect arrested by Israeli police

Israeli police, working in co-operation with the FBI, have arrested a 38-year-old man who allegedly hacked into computer systems and stole unfinished versions of songs from Madonna’s upcoming “Rebel Heart” album, leaking the Material Girl’s material online.

According to police spokesperson Luba Samri, Madonna was not the only recording artist to have suffered at the hands of hackers:

“The Tel Aviv resident, born in 1976, was believed to have stolen work from a number of artists and sold it online. We have confiscated many materials and computer equipment from the suspect’s house and investigations are still under way.”

Madonna was quick to express her pleasure at the arrest on her Facebook page:

Statement from Madonna

“I am profoundly grateful to the FBI, the Israeli Police investigators and anyone else who helped lead to the arrest of this hacker. I deeply appreciate my fans who have provided us with pertinent information and continue to do so regarding leaks of my music. Like any citizen, I have the right to privacy. This invasion into my life – creatively, professionally, and personally remains a deeply devastating and hurtful experience, as it must be for all artists who are victims of this type of crime.”

Madonna’s Israeli attorney, Tamir Afori, told local media that Madonna had lost millions of dollars in professional and personal damages as a result of the security breach and subsequent leak of tracks.

For pop stars, the unauthorised release of upcoming albums is definitely a problem. After all, a fortune is spent on the promotion and marketing of new material, and the leaking of unreleased tracks onto the internet has the potential to hit sales hard.

Just this week – although it’s not clear if it’s connected with the arrest in Israel – Björk’s new album, “Vulnicura”, leaked online over two months before its planned release. In response the Icelandic pop pixie’s record label rush released the album to digital stores, making it available worldwide rather than allowing the pirated copy to cannibalise sales.

Back in December, Madonna declared the unauthorised release of her unfinished recordings “artistic rape”, and said there was a “big possibility” that her personal computer was compromised by hackers.

The superstar said that she suspected hackers were involved, because it wasn’t just music tracks that had leaked out, but also photographs and other personal material.

The fact is, whether you are one of the most famous women on the planet or John Doe on the high street, you have to make the security of your computer and your valuable data a priority. That means taking care over your security patches, updating your anti-virus software, running a layered defence against attackers, and keeping your wits about to avoid falling for what could be a costly attack.

Author Graham Cluley, We Live Security

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