If you own one of these devices, then there is a huge chance that information about your device is floating around the internet right now. This information is out there in such a way that hackers could target you in an identity-theft scam.
On Monday evening, AntiSec, a hacker group claimed that it had obtained 12.3 million numbers called ‘unique device identifier’ from the computer of an FBI Agent/ They also scored a number of email addresses, telephone numbers and personal information. To show that it had obtained them, AntiSec posted one million of the numbers online. They claimed that the FBI was using the numbers to track people.
So what can these numbers do? Well these 40-character long codes act as the serial number for your iPhone and iPad. They are often used as an ‘ID’ when you are using applications on your Smartphone. So if they land in the wrong hands, it means a hacker would be able to obtain information about what websites you have visited on your phone or tablet, as well as the online services that you have used.
The FBI issued a denial on Tuesday stating that the data couldn’t have been stolen from them. They said “At this time, there is no evidence indicating that an FBI laptop was compromised or that the FBI either sought or obtained this data.”
Many websites however have since reported that the numbers that were posted online by Antisec are actually real. Whether they have actually come from the FBI or elsewhere, people are at risk of having their identity stolen.
Online privacy analysts have been quick to state what the risks of this breach are. Sarah Downey of Albine, located in Boston stated that there is now a high risk of fraud with these stolen details, and whilst knowing this number isn’t going to get a hacker your identity or even into your bank account, it really is a starting point for them.
Downey stated that in order to steal an identity, you would need to cross-reference these numbers with information provided by other data-mining companies. If the hacker can do this, then it is highly likely that they would be able to access the bank account of somebody, or commit other forms of identity theft.
Many websites are now offering a way in which you can check whether your UD number has been published on the list. If you are on the list, then you have been permanently compromised. This is because the ID number for the device is set at the point of manufacture and cannot be changed.
It has been suggested that if your information has been compromised, that you get in touch with Apple and request a new device. As of the time of writing, there has been no indication about how successful people have been with this method.
Apple at the moment has made no comment on the situation, no doubt because they are preparing for the launch of the iPhone 5 with the announcement scheduled for around a weeks time. It is highly unlikely that people will refuse to purchase the brand new iPhone as a result of this data breach.
Despite the FBI’s denial that they are holding this information on record, conspiracy theorists are out in full force speculating why the FBI has this information. The general consensus is that a new program of communication monitoring is in force. If this is the case, then it is highly likely that Apple have given into requests to share communications data with the FBI. This is something which cell network providers in the USA do on a daily basis.
Other possibilities that have been suggested include the fact that the FBI may have the details because they are investigating another breach of security, and someone may actually have lost these numbers. The reason it was on the computer was for ‘evidence’
However, many people are still hanging onto the angle of the story which states that the FBI was hacked. Regardless of what actually happened though, it is clear that certain iPhone and iPad owners are at risk with their personal information out there in public, and nobody really has any indication about what they should actually do. Hopefully companies such as Apple will provide us with more information in the future. Until that time, if your name appears on the list, sit tight.