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AntiSec, Apple and the FBI

AntiSec, Apple and the FBI

The FBI have denied any connection to the claims made by hacking group AntiSec that the Apple IDs they stole originated from a federal agent’s laptop. This raises the question of where exactly they did get these details and, if indeed they are telling the truth about the FBI’s involvement, what the federal government intends to do with such details.

In case you aren’t up to date with this story, the notorious AntiSec “hacktivist” group, who are associated with the Anonymous movement, published a file containing what they said to be a million Unique Device Identifiers, or UDIDs, from Apple devices, along with the names given to the devices by their owners. Apparently these were just a selection of over 12 million IDs found on the laptop of a federal agent and their reason behind publishing them was to inform people of the FBI’s intrusive activity.

The UDIDs are believed to be genuine but should not pose a risk in their own right. However AntiSec also claimed that along with the ID numbers they had also found other personal data, such as phone numbers and email addresses, although they did not publish these. A UDID combined with such details could be much more harmful and is cause for concern if these claims turn out to be true.

The FBI however rejects such claims and say there has been no security breach and neither the owner of the laptop in question, FBI agent Christopher Stangl, nor anyone else in the FBI has ever had possession of these files. No evidence currently exists to suggest a security breach or access to this data within the FBI and they maintain their stance on the subject with a rather abrupt Twitter post: “Bottom line: TOTALLY FALSE.”

Apple too have denied any affiliation with the FBI and claim that they have never released such data to them or any similar organisation. They have however expressed concern about where the files did come from. It is worth noting however that the use of UDIDs is to be discontinued and replaced with another form of identification.

If Apple’s claims are true and it turns out the files really did come from the FBI then there really is cause to worry. While national security is indeed important, it is a disturbing thought that they could be helping themselves to our personal information without the assistance or approval of Apple.

But as is it, the origin of the files remains unclear. At least one of the parties involved is lying and, whoever it is, Apple users need to be particularly cautious with how they handle their personal details. Hopefully the intentions of AntiSec are honest and they really are trying to look out for our privacy. But whether they stole them, the FBI stole them or Apple released them, the issue of security has been highlighted and we should all pay attention.

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