Two men charged with hacking AT&T servers, data from about 120,000 Apple iPads


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Two men have been charged by federal prosecutors with stealing e-mail addresses and other information from about 120,000 Apple iPad users through AT&T servers.

Daniel Spitler, 26, of San Francisco and Andrew Auernheimer, 25, of Fayetteville, Ark., each faces one count of fraud and conspiracy to access a computer without authorization, according to a Reuters report.


Prosecutors said the criminal charges stem from a ‘brute force’ hacking spree that took place over several days in June 2010, Reuters said. The attack targeted iPads connected to AT&T’s 3G wireless network, Reuters said.

AT&T said it has since fixed the network problems that left its users vulnerable to the attack.

The victims were varied, Reuters said, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer and possibly Rahm Emanuel, who was then the White House Chief of Staff, as well as some business executives.

Prosecutors said both Spitler and Auernheimer were affiliated with Goatse Security, a group of hackers and ‘Internet ‘trolls’ ’ who attack various Web services.

Last June, Goatse Security posted a letter on its website about the AT&T hacks after the media had reported on them.

‘When we disclosed this, we did it as a service to our nation,’ a Goatse member identifying himself sd Escher Auernheimer wrote in the June 14 letter. ‘We love America and the idea of the Russians or Chinese being able to subvert American infrastructure is a nightmare. We understand that good deeds many times go punished, and AT&T is trying to crucify us over this.


‘The fact remains that there was not a hint of maliciousness in our disclosure. We disclosed only to a single journalist and destroyed the data afterward. We did the right thing, and I will stand by the actions of my team and protect the finder of this bug no matter what the cost.’

It’s not clear if Escher Auernheimer is Andrew Auernheimer under a pen name, another person related to Andrew Auernheimer or a person unrelated to Andrew Auernheimer.

Reuters said it received an e-mail from Goatse member Sam Hocevar that confirmed the charges were related to the June hacking.


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles