Kate Upton is known for risque poses in lingerie ads and has posed nude in body paint for Sports Ilustrated. But the hacked photos are her first truly nude images.

Kate Upton is known for risque poses in lingerie ads and has posed nude in body paint for Sports Ilustrated. But the hacked photos are her first truly nude images.

Kate Upton, Jennifer Lawrence and by some counts as many as 100 other well-known celebrities who have been caught up in massive leak of personal nude or racy photos share one thing in common. They all apparently use iPhones.

The, so far, anonymous hacker who leaked the photos to Web sharing sites was able to obtain so many images not from individual phone accounts.

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Rather, he or she, was able to hack into something known as the iCloud. It’s an Apple service that lets individuals store photos, documents and other items in an Internet-based storage system.

The iCloud’s big advantage is that it provides virtually unlimited storage space and serves as a backup in the event a personal computer or iPhone goes down. It was thought to be secure… until now.

Hacking into iCloud would provide someone with virtually unlimited access to the data, obviously including private photos, of thousands, if not millions of people.

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From there it would just be a matter of ferreting out celebrity accounts.

Some critics have asked why so many celebrities uploaded the photos or failed to delete them. In fact, some thought the did.

“Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this. Feeling for everyone who got hacked,” wrote one of the hacked celebrities Mary E. Winstead, on Twitter.

What’s surprising, however, is that many of the celebrities may not have known their photos were being stored somewhere beside their personal phones.

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The iCloud is a feature offered by Apple along with a menu of other iPhone services.

They may have activated the upload without realizing, or understanding, that their personal photos were being uploaded at the same time their phones were storing them.

If celebs caught up in the scandal thought risque photos, often taken on the spur of the moment, were deleted, they obviously were wrong.

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Of course there was a time in Hollywood, when nude photos would have damaged, if not destroyed an actress’s career. But those days are long gone.

Celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera and celebutards like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian received a major career boost after their private photos went viral.

Winstead, 29, an actress and singer who is best known for her scream queen roles in horror films, as well as other hacked actresses, have been criticized for taking the photos and some social media nabobs accuse them of releasing the photos on purpose.

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In this case, there appears to be little doubt that the photos were illegally obtained. Thus, most Web sites have refused to publish them.

Lawrence’s rep has been threatening to sue any Web site that publishes her nude photos. The hacker claims to have 60 photos, plus videos of the star.

The rep, however, claims Lawrence holds the copyright to everything. But that’s a matter of debate.

Clearly she’s the subject in many photos, and not the one taking them. The photographer typically owns the copyright.

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Any legal claim against a publisher would run into First Amendment issues. As public figures, which celebrities are, standards are different when it comes to what constitutes privacy.

But the hacker is another matter. He, or she, clearly faces prosecution.

Christopher Chaney will spend up to 10 years in prison on his 2012 conviction for cracking the code on dozens of celebrity email accounts. He also uncovered a trove of nude photos. He argued in defense that he had an uncontrollable addiction.

Cyrus, Aguilera, Jessica Alba, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato were among some 50 celebrities who fell victim to Chaney’s hacking prowess.

Lawrence’s rep has already claimed to have contacted the police and demanded an investigation.

Apple also faces liability, if its service was indeed hacked. Celebrities could sue for massive civil penalties.

But, it would be hard to show damages if their careers are obviously boosted, or unaffected, by all the publicity.

Let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow TheImproper on Twitter for the latest developments.