2 accused of stealing e-mail addresses

Associated Press / January 19, 2011

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NEWARK — Two hackers stole the e-mail addresses of more than 100,000 Apple iPad users, including those of politicians and famous media personalities, federal prosecutors said yesterday in announcing criminal charges against the men.

US Attorney Paul Fishman said there was no evidence that the two men used the information they acquired for criminal purposes. Authorities cautioned, however, that the information could have wound up in the hands of spammers and scammers.

AT&T revealed the security vulnerability months ago.

Daniel Spitler, 26, a bookstore security guard from San Francisco, and Andrew Auernheimer, 25, of Fayetteville, Ark., face charges of fraud and conspiracy to access a computer without authorization.

Fishman characterized the men and their cohorts as engaging in “malicious one-upsmanship’’ as they sought to impress each other and others in the online community.

“We don’t tolerate committing crimes for street cred,’’ Fishman said.

Spitler appeared in US District Court in Newark yesterday and was released on $50,000 bail. US Magistrate Claire Cecchi ordered him not to use the Internet except at his job at a Borders bookstore. He is scheduled to be back in court March 7.

Auernheimer was to make a court appearance later yesterday in US District Court in Fayetteville.

The stolen e-mail addresses are unlikely to be the basis for identity theft, but a spammer armed with the addresses could send e-mail pretending to be from Apple or AT&T, which the recipients might be more likely to open.

The complaint quotes an article published on that contended the e-mail addresses of film mogul Harvey Weinstein, former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Diane Sawyer of ABC News were among those lifted from AT&T’s servers.

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said, “We take our customers’ privacy very seriously.’’