FBI hack yielded 12 million iPhone and iPad IDs, Anonymous claims

FBI hack yielded 12 million iPhone and iPad IDs, Anonymous claims

Summary: Hackers associated with Anonymous have published a million unique device identifiers from Apple devices, claiming they were taken from an FBI computer. The alleged hack was intended to publicise the existence of some kind of secret FBI tracking project.

TOPICS: Security, Apple, iPhone, iPad

Hackers associated with Anonymous claim to have swiped more than 12 million Apple iPhone and iPad device identifiers from an FBI computer.

Someone using the banner of AntiSec — a 14-month-old joint operation of Anonymous and LulzSec — posted a document to Pastebin on Monday that contained links to around a million Apple unique device identifiers (UDIDs). The anonymous poster said the release was intended to highlight the FBI's alleged tracking of Apple customers.

AntiSec claims to have stolen 12 million device IDs for Apple iPads and iPhones.

"We never liked the concept of UDIDs since the beginning indeed," the post read. "Really bad decision from Apple. Fishy thingie."

Every iOS device has a UDID. The number was put in place so developers and mobile advertising networks could track user behaviour. However, over the last year Apple has been phasing out apps' access to UDIDs, as the numbers were sometimes being transmitted to third parties without users' consent.

According to the post, which was linked to from a well-known Anonymous Twitter account, the hackers got into the Dell laptop of FBI special agent Christopher Stangl during the second week of March this year. Stangl works at the FBI's New York field office, and has been a prominent face in the agency's cybersecurity recruitment efforts.

AntiSec said the hack, which apparently exploited a Java vulnerability, yielded a CSV file containing "a list of 12,367,232 Apple iOS devices including Unique Device Identifiers (UDID), user names, name of device, type of device, Apple Push Notification Service [APNS] tokens, zipcodes, cellphone numbers, addresses, etc".

1,000,001 released

The hackers said they were publishing 1,000,001 of the UDIDs and APNS tokens as that was "enough to release". They stressed that they had stripped out the other personal data held in the file, noting that not all the listed devices have the same amount of personal data linked.

"We have learnt it seems quite clear nobody pays attention if you just come and say 'hey, [the] FBI is using your device details and info and who... knows [why they are] experimenting with that'," the document read. "We could have released mail and a very small extract of the data. Some people would eventually pick up the issue but well, let's be honest, that will be ephemeral... Eventually, looking at the massive number of devices concerned, someone should care about it."

The hackers added that it was "the right moment" to release the data as Apple was currently looking for alternatives to the UDID system.

"In this case it's too late for those concerned owners on the list," the document read. "We always thought it was a really bad idea. That hardware coded IDs for devices concept should be eradicated from any device on the market in the future."

The document, which is written in slightly broken English, has near its end an insult about US presidential candidate Mitt Romney, written in German.

Topics: Security, Apple, iPhone, iPad

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • checklist

    Check if your UDID was leaked here http://dazzlepod.com/apple/ (partial UDID search accepted)
  • Until the "scarey thing" is YOU

    Track all the people all the time to protect you from the "scary thing".
    Redefining the "scarey thing" an inch at a time until the "scarey thing" is you!

    Define the "scary thing" as terrorists.
    Define the "scary thing" as copyright violators
    Define the "scary thing" as descent
    Define the "scary thing" as opinon
    Define the "scary thing" as you!
  • UDID search

    You can check if your UDID is leaked here: http://pastehtml.com/udid , partial search accepted.
  • Evil

    True evil happens when good men stand by and do nothing
    • So what have you done?

      Michael Moore told people, and then made an excuse to exit (stage left) to cozily retire... that makes him not much good, but he's always been the left-wing's equivalent to Rush Limbaugh, who's just as much of a leech (how does whining in front of a microphone and on paper become "productive", based on their own examples, but we'd rather offshore everything so why not...)
  • IPv6

    How is this different from IPv6 where every device on the Internet has its own IPaddress?
    • It's simple

      With IPv6, you can always get a new MAC address by either changing it via software or buying a new NIC. The UID cannot be changed.

      Thus, a MAC address could be thought as a PO Box while the UID is a physical address. Sure you can change it too, but moving to a new house is a whole lot more expensive than changing PO Boxes.
      Jeff Ferguson
    • well for one thing

      IPV6 doesn't have extra fields for address and phone number.
    • UDID is just the key

      Since Apple devices are a closed ecosystem, you have no idea what's really happening with any data associated to your device, including your location, activity, calls, texts, or even whether or not the cameras microphone are turned on or off.

      For most people, your Apple device is the most personal thing you can imagine, closer to you than your underwear. When you add to that the ability to remotely control and track it, "they" can datamine your entire life from it, without you ever knowing until it's too late.
      terry flores
      • Um, I hate to tell you this, but...

        it's already too late.
  • Apple under fire

    Why apple gave this file?
    Daniel Masuda
    • in response to Daniel Masuda

      Because Apple are authority lovers and think that the government is good and will never torture people like Bradley Manning for 18 months naked in solitary confinement. Start reading.
      • in response to ohforfs

        How do you know they *willingly* gave it to them?

        Answer: You don't.

        Really, dude. You sound like you've been in your own cell for too long.
        Cylon Centurion
        • How do you know they were hacked from the FBI?

          The hackers could have gotten them straight from an Apple server, and just claimed that he got them from the FBI, so that people start accusing them of something they didn't do.

          You do that all the time, why not the hacker, too?
          William Farrel
          • How do you know they weren't hacked by the FBI?

            Were you there when the database went missing? Do you know something that we don't know? Were you at the Apple servers and noticed something?

            Tell us all about your fantasy, Wilie. You're pretty good at delusions so let's hear it.
            Cylon Centurion
          • when you hack a database

            it does not 'go missing'.
          • In Wilie's mind

            It does.


            Cylon Centurion
  • Methinks Pastehtlm and Dazzlepod art phishing

    Two nobody sites with nearly the same language to hit them?

    I don't think so.
  • It's all a farce...

    Remember Mac lovers, there's no such thing as hacked IOS (Apple told you so).

    Carry on.
    • Where is the evidence

      that iOS was hacked? All the article said was that the information was taken from an FBI computer - HOW the FBI got this information is quite relevant but not addressed in the article. So why do you assume that iOS got hacked without any sort of statement other than that Apple UDID's were found on an FBI laptop?