Prominent users of Apple's new iPad 3G, including military and government officials as well as media personalities and celebrities, had their e-mail addresses hacked by a group that shared its findings with online publication Valleywag to point out security flaws in AT&T's Web servers.
"We began poring through the 114,067 entries and were stunned at the names we found," Valleywag said on its site. Among the iPad users whose e-mail addresses were shared: ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The iPad 3G went on sale April 30 in the United States. It uses either Wi-Fi or AT&T's 3G cellular service to connect to the Internet for Web surfing and e-mail. A Wi-Fi only iPad was offered first, in early April. So far, Apple has sold more than 2 million iPads, the company has said. There was no comment from Apple, which earlier this week introduced its next-generation iPhone.
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Apple wasn't the first to show the new iPhone; gadgets blog Gizmodo was a few months ago when it purchased an iPhone prototype for $5,000. Gizmodo is owned by Gawker Media, the same company that publishes Valleywag.
"AT&T was informed by a business customer on Monday of the potential exposure of their iPad ICC IDS," said AT&T Wednesday. "The only information that can be derived from the ICC IDS is the e-mail address attached to that device."
The ICC IDS (integrated circuit card identifier) is a unique identifier tying a device to a wireless subscriber.
"The only information that can be derived from the ICC IDS is the e-mail address attached to that device," AT&T said. "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."
The company said it is "continuing to investigate and will inform all customers whose e-mail addresses and ICC IDS may have been obtained.
"We take customer privacy very seriously and while we have fixed this problem, we apologize to our customers who were impacted."
The group that hacked AT&T's Web servers is called Goatse, which has "previously highlighted real security vulnerabilities in the Firefox and Safari Web browsers, and attracted media attention for finding what it said were flaws in Amazon's community ratings system," Gawker said.
The least expensive iPad 3G model costs between $629; the most expensive, $829. AT&T does not require a contract for iPad customers to use its cellular network.
Monthly fees initially were $30 a month for unlimited data, or $15 a month for 250 megabytes. A new data plan that took effect this week is $25 a month for unlimited data.