iPad Hackers Charged by Federal Prosecutors

January 19, 2011 -

ABC News reports that two men have been charged with hacking AT&T's servers and stealing the private information of nearly 120,000 iPad users including such notables as Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and President Obama's former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Some have called the men "Internet trolls" because of the way they allegedly bragged about it online. The security breach occurred during the initial release of Apple's iPad, according to court documents.

The two are 26-year-old Daniel Spitler of San Francisco, and 25-year-old Andrew Auernheimer of Fayetteville, Ark. Both received a charge of fraud and conspiracy to access a computer without authorization. The charges were announced by the U.S. prosecutors office in Newark, N.J.

According to the complaint filed by the FBI in Newark this week, Spitler and Auernheimer allegedly used a "brute force hack tactic" over the course of several days on AT&T servers. After breaching security, the duo uncovered email addresses related to 120,000 iPad accounts.

After the attack, Gawker.com was allegedly supplied with information obtained during the hack from the group Goatse Security, described in the complaint as a "loose association of internet hackers" that Spitler and Auernheimer were allegedly associated with.

The court papers cite that Gawker report. Around 120,000 emails were captured including notable personalities and politicians such as Bloomberg, Weinstein, Rahm Emanuel, ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer, and several Department of Defense employees.

Auernheimer and Spitler also allegedly talked about the hack in chat logs, which were given to the FBI. The FBI says that Auernheimer also took credit for the attack in an email he sent to the U.S. Attorney's office in New Jersey in November.

"AT&T needs to be held accountable for their insecure infrastructure as a public utility and we must defend the rights of consumers, over the rights of shareholders," he wrote, according to the complaint.

While Auernheimer claimed to do this in the name of exposing a security flaw to AT&T to protect iPad users, the FBI isn't buying that explanation: they see it purely as a crime done simply for thrills or notoriety:

"Hacking is not a competitive sport, and security breaches are not a game. Companies that are hacked can suffer significant losses, and their customers made vulnerable to other crimes, privacy violations, and unwanted contact," U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman tells ABC News.

"Unauthorized intrusions into personal privacy adversely affect individual citizens, businesses, and even national security," said Michael Ward, special agent in charge of the FBI's Newark field office. "Such intrusion cases, regardless of the motive is criminal gain or prestige among peers in the cyber-hacking world, must and will be aggressively pursued to ensure these rights are protected to the highest degree."

The ABC News report also points to a 2008 interview that Auernheimer did with the New York Times:

"I hack, I ruin, I make piles of money. I make people afraid for their lives," he said to the Times.

The FBI also claims that the men wanted to make money off the stolen data.. in the stock market. During one online conversation between the two, they discussed holding off on announcing the security breach so they could "short AT&T stock."

The logs, which were handed over to the FBI by an anonymous source last summer, are part of the court documents filed this week, according to Computer World. Spitler surrendered to the FBI in Newark on Tuesday and is scheduled to appear in federal court. Auernheimer is scheduled to appear in federal court in Fayetteville. Neither men have entered a plea.

Source: ABC News

 


Comments

Re: iPad Hackers Charged by Federal Prosecutors

Re: iPad Hackers Charged by Federal Prosecutors

So, bragging = trolling somehow?

 
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NeenekoMy bad, I always have trouble working out what is going on in shoutbox10/02/2014 - 11:34am
Papa MidnightTo a point stated earlier, it very much is a form of indirect censorship. Rather than engage in rhetoric and debate, one side has instead chosen to cut-off opposing viewpoints at the knees and silence them via destroying their means of income.10/02/2014 - 11:28am
Papa MidnightNeeneko: the topic of Intel's dropping of Gamasutra is indeed part of this very ongoing conversation.10/02/2014 - 11:26am
NeenekoThis can't be good... http://games.slashdot.org/story/14/10/02/1558213/intel-drops-gamasutra-sponsorship-over-controversial-editorials10/02/2014 - 11:25am
Andrew EisenAnd there's also the consideration that the fact that a former IGN editor was one of the people who worked on the game's localization may be unknown (although in this specific case, probably not. Drakes been very visible at events IGN covers).10/02/2014 - 11:24am
Papa MidnightAlso, let's face it: people seem to believe that a conflict of interest can yield only positive coverage. Who is to say that Audrey Drake did not leave on bad terms with IGN (with several bridges burned in their wake)? That could yield negative coverage.10/02/2014 - 11:23am
Papa MidnightThat's a fair question, and it's where things get difficult. While Jose Otero may not have any cause to show favor, Jose's editor may, as may the senior editor (and anyone else involved in the process before it reaches publication).10/02/2014 - 11:21am
Andrew EisenWould such disclosure still be required if Fantasy Life were reviewed by Jose Otero, who wasn't hired by IGN until sometime after Drake left?10/02/2014 - 11:19am
Papa MidnightIn that case, a disclosure might be in order. The problem, of course, is applying it on a case-by-case basis; As EZK said, what's the cut-off?10/02/2014 - 11:19am
E. Zachary KnightAndrew, a disclosure would probably be in order as she likely still has a strong relationship with IGN staff. My follow up question would be "What is the statute of limitations on such a requirement?"10/02/2014 - 11:09am
E. Zachary KnightSleaker, my hyperbole was intended to illustrate the difference and similarity between direct censorship and indirect censorship.10/02/2014 - 11:07am
Andrew EisenOpen Question: Former IGN Nintendo editor Audrey Drake now works in the Nintendo Treehouse. Do you think it's important for IGN to disclose this fact in the review of Fantasy Life, a game she worked on? Should IGN recuse itself from reviewing the game?10/02/2014 - 11:07am
E. Zachary KnightSleaker, My thoughts on disclosure: http://gamepolitics.com/2014/09/25/what-your-gamergate-wish-list#comment-29598710/02/2014 - 11:02am
Sleaker@EZK - using hyperbole is a bit silly. I'm asking a serious question. Where's the line on disclosure as relates to journalistic involvement in the culture they report on?10/02/2014 - 10:59am
E. Zachary KnightSo a journalist reporting on general gaming news mentions a specific developer and their game involved in said news, and it is suddenly some nefarious conspiracy to hide a conflict of interest. I think someone is reaching for validation.10/02/2014 - 10:53am
Andrew EisenYes, imagine anyone insisting that two utterences of the phrase "Depression Quest creator Zoe Quinn" wasn't influenced by something happening in the future!10/02/2014 - 10:52am
Sleaker@Pap Midnight - So wouldn't it be any journalist writing about general gaming culture would need to disclose any and all links/ties to said general gaming culture to be ethical? Also @EZK to use you're own methodology, I'm still curious on the question10/02/2014 - 10:49am
KronoSure none of those are reviews, but it is positive exposure, which as illustrated by The Fine Young Capitalists, is pretty damn important for getting people to check out your work.10/02/2014 - 10:32am
Krono@Midnight and of course the article most people mention and insist was no way influenced by him being romantically involved only days later, and her friend beforehand here: http://goo.gl/xCzivK10/02/2014 - 10:29am
Papa MidnightThe term "lovers" might be pushing it given the apparent time frame, but I understand what you're saying. Even if they were friends at the time, then that may present impropiety. However, that calls for a Magic-8-Ball level of speculation.10/02/2014 - 10:26am
 

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