In wake of celebrity hacking scandal, expert shares tips to protect your privacy

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The photos of some of Hollywood's hottest women aren't ones they intended for you to see, as a slew of nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities appeared online Sunday night.

Authorities believe hackers made their way into Apple's iCloud storage system and downloaded the photos. Lawrence is promising to sue any website that posts the pictures, as Apple and the FBI investigate.

The massive hacking scandal probably has many of you questioning how secure your own photos and data are when uploaded to cloud servers via smartphones.

Most devices come with a cloud, an online storage unit that by default is set to back up almost everything on your phone, and can be accessed by anyone who can guess your username and password.

Computer expert and PC Solutions owner Jim Keeley says high-profile celebrities are more at risk than you are, but, “If someone really wants to target somebody, I think there’s no holds barred,” he told FOX 4.

Keeley suggested you should be aware of your current phone settings because deleting something off your phone doesn't mean you deleted it from your cloud.

“By default, you’re sharing your pictures,” he said. “You have to be proactive and go in there and turn it off yourself.”

On an iPhone, you can do that by going to settings, iCloud, photos, and turning off your photo stream, which is set to automatically back up your photos and sync them across all Apple devices.

Next, Keeley said you want to create a long password that’s hard to crack and contains a combination of letters and numbers.

Finally, he says set up a two-step verification, which requires you to verify your identity using another device.

For absolute protection from cloud hackers, he said, “I would suggest plugging in your phone to your PC or Mac and syncing your photos that way and drag and drop, just turning off the cloud completely.”

Keeley suggested using your own hard drive instead of an on online server to back up your most private data.

As for the hackers, their actions can lead to serious prison time. In 2010 one Florida man was sentenced to 10 years after he pleaded guilty to hacking accounts and stealing nude pictures of several celebrities, including Scarlett Johansson.