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Outrage over AT&T iPad data slurp hacker conviction

Greyhats lifted names and emails without busting security

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A grey hat hacker has been found guilty of breaching AT&T's site security to obtain iPad customer data.

Andrew "Weev" Auernheimer, 27, from New York, was convicted of conspiracy to hack and identity fraud over his role in a 2010 exploit against an AT&T account maintenance website that resulted in the leak of 120,000 email addresses of iPad owners, Reuters reports.

Auernheimer’s lawyer, Tor Ekeland, said that his client intended to appeal the verdict of a New Jersey jury, a point confirmed by Auernheimer.

The case is been closely watched in the information security community because Auernheimer recovered the data from the AT&T website without bypassing any security controls. The appeal will therefore focus on whether the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act offences were committed by Auernheimer, an important point of law that has implications for both penetration testing and the reporting of security vulnerabilities.

Rob Graham of Errata Security has a suitably angry and fiercely argued blog post on the implications of the case here.

For now, Auernheimer is on bail pending the results of a sentencing hearing. Auernheimer, a self-described internet troll, was a member of the group of computer experts known as "Goatse Security" that went to Gawker with details of the breach after they had notified AT&T of the problem.

Scripts developed by Goatse Security mined the names and email addresses of about 120,000 early adopter iPad owners, including White House staffers, celebrities, journalists and wealthy financiers. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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