Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

The great iPad security breach

June 9, 2010: 7:01 PM ET

The e-mail addresses of 114,000 iPad 3G owners may have been compromised

Image: Valleywag

According to a report on a Silicon Valley gossip site, Apple (AAPL) and AT&T (T) have suffered a security breach that has exposed the e-mail addresses of an A-list of early iPad 3G owners, among them White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, ABC News' Diane Sawyer, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and dozens of CEOs, politicians and military officials.

The report was produced by some of Steve Jobs' least-favorite journalists. It was written by Ryan Tate, the reporter who engaged in a drunken late-night e-mail exchange with Apple's CEO and published the transcript without ever identifying himself as a journalist, according to Jobs. And it appeared in Valleywag, a publication owned by the man, Gawker Media's Nick Denton, who authorized Gizmodo to buy the famous "lost" prototype iPhone.

Tate describes the breach as Apple's "worst," although losing e-mail addresses is hardly on the same scale as losing credit card or social security numbers, and it's not at all clear that the breach was Apple's in the first place. Tate describes in general terms the method by which 114,067 addresses and associated circuit card IDs fell through a hole in AT&T's network, and he was able to confirm the authenticity of at least two of the addresses on the list.

AT&T would only admit to the "potential exposure" of iPad ICC IDs, not the number of addresses or any of the celebrity victims cited in Valleywag's report. Apple declined to comment.

[UPDATE: By Wednesday evening, AT&T announced that it had closed the security leak.]

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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