2 Charged With Hacking Into AT&T, Stealing 120K iPad Users' Info

Mayor Bloomberg's info reportedly among those stolen in June security breach

 They bragged about their computer hacking and now they face up to five years in prison.

Today, 26-year-old Daniel Spitler of San Francisco stood in a Newark courtroom, accused of stealing 120,000 email addresses from iPads, including those of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Rahm Emanuel and ABC's Diane Sawyer. He and 25-year old Andrew Auernheimer of Fayetteville, Arkansas were taken into custody by the FBI this morning.

Back in June 2010, it's charged the two men used a process known as a "brute force" attack against AT+T's servers, randomly guessing users' Integrated Circuit Card Identifiers (ICC-IDs) on iPads and linking those to email addresses.

The two are charged with one count each of conspiracy to access a computer without authorization and one count of fraud. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of 250-thousand dollars.

What got authorities' attention was when Spitler and Auernheimer gave the website Gawker the stolen email addresses and ICC-IDs. Prosecutors say the two men bragged about the information they obtained last June.

At a news conference this afternoon in Newark, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman says "hacking is not a competitive sport, and security breaches are not a game. Companies that are hacked can suffer significant losses, and their customers made vulnerable to other crimes, privacy violations and unwanted contact." He says 16,000 of the victims live in New Jersey.

At an initial hearing in federal court in Newark this afternoon, prosecutors claim the defendants "talked about selling the list (of email addresses) to spammers. They talked about dropping the price of AT+T (on the stock market)."

AT+T says it corrected the problem last June, as soon as they were contacted by authorities.

At the Newark hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Claire Cecchi ruled that Daniel Spitler can be released on a 50-thousand dollars bond. It's unclear right now whether he'll be able to post that bond. A hearing for Auernheimer is scheduled for later this afternoon in Arkansas on a separate charge. Auernheimer is scheduled to appear in Newark on March 7th.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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