Post Tech Cecilia Kang

(Chris Ratcliffe - Bloomberg)
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Friday, June 11, 2010

FBI investigating iPad security breach

The FBI said on Thursday that it is investigating a security breach of AT&T's wireless network that exposed the e-mail addresses and network identification numbers of thousands of iPad users.

Many high-level government officials, including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, are iPad 3G users and appear to be among the affected customers, according to the Gawker Web Site. Gawker reported the breach Wednesday and obtained a list of 114,000 users whose e-mail addresses were exposed by a hacker group known as Goatse Security.

FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said in an e-mail: "The FBI is aware of these possible computer intrusions and is looking into it." He did not immediately respond to e-mails seeking further comment.

AT&T is the exclusive partner for Apple's iPhone and iPad, providing high-speed Internet access for the tablet computer, which launched two months ago. Apple says it has sold 2 million of the devices.

AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company said Wednesday that it had closed the security hole and would notify affected users.

The incident underscores the need for better privacy and security protections for Internet users, regulators said. Because the security breach occurred on a communications network, the FCC is one watchdog agency that could pursue further investigation.

"I am concerned about the report of a security breach to AT&T's network that exposed the personal data of more than a hundred thousand iPad users," said Jamie Barnett, chief of the FCC's public safety bureau. "The FCC will continue to work with all stakeholders to prevent future security breaches that violate consumer privacy and undermine trust in America's communications infrastructure."

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