Several suggestions for safely storing sexy selfies

The cloud isn’t the best place for sensitive material.
The cloud isn’t the best place for sensitive material.
Image: Reuters/Mike Blake
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As you get older, your body will steadily decay. There is a natural urge, then, to document it in its prime—an urge to which, it now appears, many celebrities are also not immune. One or more malcontents have hacked a host of said celebrities’ Apple iCloud accounts, gaining access to some of the racy photos stored therein.

It is hard to avoid backing up your photos to the cloud. Both iPhones and Android phones will automatically save everything to those companies’ massive data banks if given half a chance. One errant push of the “I agree” button, and a lifetime’s worth of Sunday brunches, siblings’ babies, and sexy selfies zip over to an anonymous hard drive whirring away in a server farm somewhere on the planet.

But fear not, documentarians: there are ways to prevent your private collection from eventually finding itself in the very public galleries of the internet, if you follow these simple steps.

1) Avoid the cloud

Remember that digital camera you bought before you acquired a smartphone? Dig it out of storage, charge the battery and use that instead. It might be a bit bulkier, but there’s a payoff: You’ll save so much of your smartphone’s battery life by not constantly taking and uploading pictures that you can stop lugging a charger or spare battery pack.

2) Don’t keep any backups

Sooner or later the media card on your camera will fill up. Do not make the mistake of transferring these to your computer, which is not only online, but could also lead to extra copies being produced when you try to (sensibly) back up your excel spreadsheets and that unfinished novel.

Instead, remove the media card from the camera, conceal it in last week’s copy of the New Yorker or the Economist, and stick it on the coffee table in your living room. Nobody will ever find it.

3) Go analog

Remember Polaroid cameras? They’re back from the dead. There are imitators too, such as this range from Fuji. These offer two advantages: First, the expense and scarcity of film means that you will be more measured in your photography. That means fewer but better images.

Second, they are also difficult to reproduce, and as with any analogue technology, each successive reproduction reduces the quality. Imagine if the photos being circulated online were to lose a degree to quality every time they were passed along.

You might also consider investing in a cross-cut shredder to dispose of the snaps that don’t meet your high standards. Think about burning the shredded remains. This is a much more secure way of ensuring erasure than simply clicking ”delete.”

4) Store safely

The magazine trick will not work for hard copy photographs. As your collection grows over time, so will the unseemly bulge in the middle of the pile of magazines. Instead, place them in a waterproof container in the cistern of your toilet. The more safety-conscious may also consider investing in a false ceiling or hollow doorframes.

5) Transmit securely

But what if you need to share your pictures with people? In some ways, this is more secure in the offline world than the online one. FedEx, unlike Google, does not the inspect the contents of your correspondence (though customs might want a peek if you’re sending material overseas). National post is almost never opened by third parties. Still, it’s safer to deliver the photographs yourself or via a trusted ally. The distances, time, and effort involved might also make you reconsider sending said snaps in the first place.

And if you simply must use the internet to store or transmit material, there are some basic security measures that have been widely publicized since the news of the celebrity photo hack broke. If you have any tips of your own, please add them in the annotations or email us at