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Two accused of hacking into AT&T servers, stealing iPad users' data

Federal prosecutors say a man from San Francisco and another from Arkansas stole e-mail addresses and other information from about 120,000 people.

January 19, 2011|By Nathan Olivarez-Giles, Los Angeles Times

Federal prosecutors said Tuesday that they had charged two men with stealing e-mail addresses and other information from about 120,000 Apple iPad tablet users.

Daniel Spitler, 26, of San Francisco and Andrew Auernheimer, 25, of Fayetteville, Ark., each were accused last week of conspiring to hack into AT&T Inc.'s servers and possessing subscriber data from those servers, according to the U.S. attorney's office in New Jersey, where the case is being prosecuted.

Prosecutors said the criminal charges stem from a "brute force" hacking spree that took place over several days last June. The attack targeted iPads connected to AT&T's 3G wireless network, the U.S. attorney's office said.

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

In the federal complaint against Spitler and Auernheimer, the victims are said to have included New York 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.

Spitler and Auernheimer were affiliated with Goatse Security, a group of hackers who attack various Web services, according to court documents.

The group came under scrutiny after an article about its exploits was published on a news website.

"When we disclosed this, we did it as a service to our nation," a Goatse member identifying himself as Escher Auernheimer wrote in the June 14 letter posted on its website. "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."

It was not immediately clear whether Escher Auernheimer is Andrew Auernheimer, a relative or someone unrelated to him.

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