AT&T confirmed a security breach exposed the e-mail addresses of 3G iPad owners.
The breach was first reported by Gawker.com after a group called Goatse Security exploited a security hole on AT&T's Website. As a result, the group was able to get its hands on the e-mail addresses of 114,000 owners of 3G iPads.
"AT&T was informed by a business customer on Monday of the potential exposure of their iPad ICC IDs [integrated circuit card identifiers]," an AT&T spokesperson said. "The only information that can be derived from the ICC IDs is the e-mail address attached to that device. This issue was escalated to the highest levels of the company and was corrected by Tuesday; and we have essentially turned off the feature that provided the e-mail addresses."
According to Gawker, Goatse Security obtained the data through a script on AT&T's Website. When provided with an ICC-ID as part of an HTTP request, the script would return the associated e-mail addresses.
"The security researchers were able to guess a large swath of ICC IDs by looking at known iPad 3G ICC IDs ... which can also be obtained through friendly associates who own iPads and are willing to share their information, available within the iPad 'Settings' application," according to Gawker. "To make AT&T's servers respond, the security group merely had to send an iPad-style 'User agent' header in their Web request. Such headers identify users' browser types to Websites."
The stolen e-mail addresses included some military officials as well as top executives at companies such as Dow Jones and the New York Times Company.
Though Goatse Security told Gawker it notified AT&T of the breach, AT&T's spokesperson said, "The person or group who discovered this gap did not contact AT&T." According to Gawker, a member of the group said the script was shared with third parties prior to AT&T closing the security hole and it's not known whose hands the exploit may have fallen into and what they did with any stolen data.
"We are continuing to investigate and will inform all customers whose e-mail addresses and ICC IDs may have been obtained," the AT&T spokesperson said. "We take customer privacy very seriously and while we have fixed this problem, we apologize to our customers who were impacted."