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'Organized' hack targets AT&T wireless subscribers

'Auto script' attack fails to breach accounts

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Hackers used automatic scripts to target AT&T wireless subscribers in an unsuccessful attempt to steal information stored in their online accounts, company officials said.

In an email sent to targeted subscribers, AT&T warned of an “organized attempt” to break into their accounts. The advisory was sent to less than 1 per cent of the company's wireless subscribers, spokesman Mark Siegel told The Register. The company informed the users "out of an abundance of caution."

“The people in question appear to have used 'auto script' technology to determine whether AT&T telephone numbers were linked to online AT&T accounts,” company officials said in an accompanying statement.

If the script was able to isolate phone numbers that were linked to online accounts, AT&T's website may be configured in a way that puts subscriber privacy at risk. Last year, hackers obtained the email addresses of 114,000 early adopters of Apple's iPad by exploiting weaknesses in an AT&T website.

Security advisors say login mechanisms on websites should never return error messages that indicate an email address, phone number, or user name is valid. Siegel declined to elaborate on the attack or how AT&T's website responded to the attack script.

“No accounts were breached and our investigation is ongoing to determine the source or intent of the attempt to gather this information,” the statement said. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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