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Security gaffe exposes addresses of elite iPaders

AT&T on the hot seat

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AT&T has exposed the email addresses of more than 114,000 early adopters of Apple's iPad, a security breach that could make some of the world's most elite celebrities and executives vulnerable to phishing attacks, Gawker reports.

According to an article published Wednesday, the vulnerability in AT&T's website was exploited by Goatse Security, the same grey-hat group that exposed Firefox-based attacks on IRC, wreaked havoc on Amazon sales rankings, and pioneered some of the most foul images found on the internet. As a result, email addresses for New York Times Co. CEO Janet Robinson, ABC Newswoman Diane Sawyer, film mogul Harvey Weinstein, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg have been exposed.

The breach also exposed the ICC-ID, or integrated circuit card identifier, for the group of 114,067, which were all early adopters of the iPad 3G. It appears the information is of little use to attackers, but Gawker said the possibility exists for it to be used to spoof individual iPads on AT&T's network.

According to the report, Goatse obtained the data by exploiting a vulnerable web application on AT&T's site that matched ICC-IDs with email addresses. By writing a script that bombarded the site with thousands of possible ICC-ID numbers, the group was able to obtain the email addresses. To make their exploit work, members had to lace their requests with an iPad-style user agent header.

Gawker said reporters alerted AT&T to the breach on Monday, and the hole was closed. Shortly after the article was published, the carrier acknowledged the breach, and said it would alert customers after an investigation is completed. So far, Apple has yet to comment on the report.

Other iPad users who were affected included executives at Dow Jones, Conde Nast, Viacom, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and AOL. Top people inside some of the nation's most sensitive organizations were also exposed, including William Eldredge, who commands the largest strategic bomber group in the US Air Force, Gawker said. It's possible other groups exploited the same vulnerable web app to make off with a much larger cache of email addresses, Goatse said. ®

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