Tuesday, January 18, 2011
FBI to charge 'hackers who stole personal details of 120,000 iPad users'
U.S. investigators are today planning to bring criminal charges over the alleged theft of email addresses and other personal information belonging to about 120,000 iPad users.
Prosecutors said the charges arise from an incident last June when iPad users on the AT&T network in the US were subject to a hack that allegedly saw the personal details of around 120,000 customers compromised.
Among the customers hit by the alleged scam were senior members of the government, the military and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, and the FBI plan to hold a press conference later today to reveal who is facing the charges.
Hackers apparently obtained access to the database of 3G iPad owners and their email addresses. The data was obtained by executing a 'brute force' attack on the AT&T website.
It appeared at the time that the hackers produced a script that auto-generated thousands of 'unique identifiers' for customers' iPads, harvesting email addresses in the process and opening them up to possible hacking, spam and viruses.
The customers involved included members of the US military, CEOs, media companies and politicians.
The list of emails stolen were early-adopter iPad 3G subscribers that included thousands of A-listers in finance, politics and media, from New York Times CEO Janet Robinson to Diane Sawyer of ABC News to film mogul Harvey Weinstein to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Then White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's information was compromised. And within the military, several devices were registered to the domain of DARPA, the advanced research division of the Department of Defense, along with the major service branches.
The security breach followed just weeks after an Apple employee lost an iPhone prototype in a bar in California.
Today's announcement suggests that more information than merely email addresses could have been harvested by the hackers responsible.