Hackers leak 1 million Apple UDIDs allegedly stolen from FBI laptop

Hackers claim to have stolen a file containing information on over 12 million iOS devices and their owners from an FBI laptop

A group of hackers released a file containing unique identification data for over 1 million Apple iOS devices and claim that the information is part of a larger database stolen from the compromised laptop of an FBI agent.

"During the second week of March 2012, a Dell Vostro notebook, used by Supervisor Special Agent Christopher K. Stangl from FBI Regional Cyber Action Team and New York FBI Office Evidence Response Team was breached using the AtomicReferenceArray vulnerability in Java," the hackers, who claimed affiliation to Anonymous and its Operation Antisec campaign, said Monday in a statement published on Pastebin.

"During the shell session some files were downloaded from his Desktop folder," the hackers said. "One of them with the name of 'NCFTA_iOS_devices_intel.csv' turned to be a list of 12,367,232 Apple iOS devices including Unique Device Identifiers (UDID), user names, name of device, type of device, Apple Push Notification Service tokens, zipcodes, cellphone numbers, addresses, etc."

As proof, the hackers released a stripped-down version of that file that only contained 1 million UDIDs, with associated Apple Push Notification Service tokens and device names. The other personal data that accompanied many of the UDIDs was intentionally removed, the hackers said.

The FBI declined to comment on the alleged security breach.

However, the leaked UDIDs -- random-looking codes made up of letters and numbers that are unique to every iOS device -- appear to be authentic.

"I have confirmed three of my devices in the leaked data," Peter Kruse, an electronic crime specialist at Denmark-based security firm CSIS Security Group, said Tuesday on Twitter.

A check of a random sample of UDIDs using the publicly accessible API (application programming interface) of OpenFeint, a social networking platform for iOS games, revealed that many of them correspond to devices whose owners have OpenFeint player profiles.

According to security researcher Aldo Cortesi, the founder of New Zealand-based security consultancy firm Nullcube, the leak of UDIDs can have serious privacy implications.

In the past, Cortesi investigated how UDIDs were being used by app developers and what information was being associated with them.

In May 2011, he reported that, when supplied with an UDID, the OpenFeint's API returned GPS coordinates and information that could reveal the user's Facebook profile.

In September 2011, he reported that other popular iOS gaming platforms had similar data leak issues. In one case, a platform's API even allowed attackers to take over a user's Facebook and Twitter account by knowing only their iOS device's UDID.

"It's disheartening to say it, but some of the companies mentioned in my posts still have unfixed problems (they were all notified well in advance of any publication)," Cortesi said in a blog post published Tuesday in light of the new UDID leak, which he described as a "privacy catastrophe."

"There are a number of far more serious problems still unfixed in the gaming social networks I discussed, but I would like to avoid describing those directly," Cortesi said Tuesday via email. "I [also] know of similar vulnerabilities in a number of non-gaming applications."

One of the problems is that user information linked to UDIDs has been aggregated in thousands of databases that now exist all over the Web, Cortesi said. "It takes only a single leak or security incident for data like this to be exposed."

"It's common, for instance, for app developers to use a UDID as a pseudo-identifier for users, and then to use that for tracking and analytics," Cortesi said. "The result would be a database of UDIDs with some associated behavioral information."

The use of UDIDs has been deprecated since iOS 5.0 and Apple has started rejecting App Store submissions for apps that access UDIDs since March.

The UDID was a bad idea from the beginning and Apple should have realized its privacy implications, Cortesi said. "I believe that they're doing what they can to move the application ecosystem away from using UDIDs as quickly as possible. They've just not quite been quick enough."

Apple did not return a request for comment regarding the leak of 1 million UDIDs.

(Jeremy Kirk in Sydney contributed to this report.)

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?