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Goatse Security may finally pay the price legally for sticking its digital paws in AT&T's gaping iPad security hole.
Some members of Goatse Security reside within the U.S., others outside it

According to an update on Reuters, the FBI will hold a press conference later today to announce charges of theft of personal information and related computer crimes concerning a recent data leak from AT&T.  That means one thing -- Apple and AT&T convinced the feds to formally charge Goatse Security, the research team responsible for grabbing and posting 120,000 iPad users' emails and hardware identifiers from an almost wide-open online database.

Apple and AT&T had been pressing hard for charges for some time now, but all had been quiet on the western front.

Goatse Security, an international team of security researchers prides themselves on discovering and exploiting "gaping holes", obtained a treasure trove of emails, stored in a database, and posted redacted portions of that database back in June on Gawker.  

The info came from a
n AJAX script openly hosted on AT&T's website, which returned an email when handed a hardware identification number called a ICC-ID (integrated circuit card identifiers).  In that regard, Goatse hardly had to "hack" in a traditional sense to obtain the information as authorities are suggesting.  The only trickery at all was to make the request header look like it came from an iPad.  From there it was just a matter of making a PHP script that guessed random ICC-IDs and monitored the returned emails.

Part of what may have landed Goatse in hot water was that it posted the emails of several high profile U.S. political and military figures, including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.  Not all of these individuals' emails obtained were ones freely shared in the public domain -- some were the kind reserved typically for official business.

Based on our prior research, some Goatse Security team members involved in the breach resided within the United States -- Escher "Weev" Auernheimer (Calif.), Christopher Abad (Calif.).  Others -- such as Sam Hocevar (France) -- reside outside the country.  The soon to be announced charges will likely focus on Auernheimer and Abad.  Mr. Auernheimer was already arrested by the FBI in the summer of 2010 on separate, unrelated drug charges.

The charges will likely come, at least in part, from violations of the Computer Fraud Act of 1986 [PDF].  That law, amended by the recent 2001 Patriot Act [PDF] to strengthen penalties for hacking government systems, includes provisions prohibiting unauthorized access of corporate systems with the intent to "defraud".  The rather vague language in the bill has provided the federal government with an ideal blunt instrument to legally beat hackers/security researchers with in the past.



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RE: Theft is theft
By bah12 on 1/18/2011 12:21:13 PM , Rating: 2
Of course we wouldn't but that is not really my qualm here. I think the FBI has a duty in this case to press charges. The firm clearly impersonated an iPad. Easy to do sure, but still an impersonation. For the "net" to be a consumer friendly place these Act's and Laws were put in place to be sure people are whom they say they are. Our society has said that pretending to be something your not to steal information is illegal, this is what they did.

I just find it appalling that Mick has spun this article downplaying the actions of this firm. I don't want to come off as defending ATT/Apple but clearly this firm is not ambivalent.


RE: Theft is theft
By nevermore781 on 1/18/2011 4:37:44 PM , Rating: 2
I have changed my user agent strings in browsers for all kinds of reasons, the majority being "i want the real web site not the mobile one" and secondly for software testing. If i then use the browser to access a site that is specifically designed for my user agent, how am i breaking the law? This was a publically available server, you didnt need to login, and there was no checks and balances to ensure the browser/device accessing the site was what it should be. If anyone should be sued or prosecuted it should be the developer who made the site, the network administrator who published it to the proxy/webhost, or ATT/Apple for being negligent with their customer records. What good is this tool anyway? I see no valid support reason for a tool like this, especially one accessible from outside of an internal network.

Im not saying posting the info wasnt a bad idea, it was, but im failing to see how changing a user agent string is illegal or how accessing something on the internet is illegal.

Pretty simple rule...if you dont want the internet to know about it, dont post it to the internet.


RE: Theft is theft
By rudy on 1/18/2011 6:27:48 PM , Rating: 2
Do you think the FBI should prosecute Data mining companies which use 3rd party cookies to spy on you personal information and or collect web habits then sell that information to others?


RE: Theft is theft
By zzeoss on 1/19/2011 6:36:13 AM , Rating: 2
omg they impoersonated an iPad, how could they? Bastards!
omg my Firefox browser is impersonating an Internet Explorer browse, how could they? Bastards!


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